On the Path to Recovery

sent in by Kevin Smith

First of all, let me say how much I have enjoyed this website, and how encouraging it is to hear from others out there who have sacrificed the spirit of superstition at the alter of reason. I would especially like to thank this website for introducing me to the works of Thomas Paine. Secondly, writing this is part of a very difficult process for me. Working through these religous issues has not been easy, it has conjured up painful memories and forced me to relive them. One episode of the Sopranos said it best, Tony's psychiatrist likened the purging of painful memories to giving birth, Tony replied "no, it's definately like taking a shit". Well, anyway, maybe it's a good idea to start "In the beginning...".

Like many of you, my childhood was spent in a fundamentalist charismatic home. At the age of five, my parents left a mainstream Baptist church (ok, they were kicked out) and joined the home church movement. They went from being normal, likeable people, to bible-thumping, tongues-speaking, faith-healing, Jesus freaks. In a nutshell, they became intolerant and intolerable. My world was turned upside down, all of a sudden there were strange people in my face, casting out my demons, and imploring the holy spirit it knock me out (keep in mind, I was only five when it started). Stories were told of black-hooded, faceless demons visiting people in the night, which had the result of plaguing me with nightmares and insomnia to this very day (I'm 37). The feelings they told me I should have were just not there, in fact I was just scared to death. Since they could not break through to me, they dismissed me as not accepting the holy spirit. I really wanted to please my parents, and I wanted to feel what they said I should feel, so it left me wondering what was wrong with me. My parents had great ambitions to be spiritual leaders, and they did not appreciate me holding them back.

It wasn't long before my school teachers started calling to ask why there were dark bags under my eyes, and what was with my morbid attitude. They wanted to know why I thought Christmas was a demonic holiday and why I was saying Santa was just Satan with the letters rearranged. Some of the kids were upset and crying because I was telling them Santa didn't exist, and that they were going to hell for believing in him. So my parents told them to put me out in the hallway by myself during parties, movies, or anything else they deemed demonic. By the end of the third grade my parents gave up on exercising the demons from the public school and decided to put me into a fundamentalist Baptist school. Those of you who are familiar with fundamentalism, knows that one fundamentalist group does not mix well with another. At school, I was constantly singled out and told how my parents were demon possessed and were riding the bullet train to hell. At home, my parents had a equally disturbing retort, they said my teachers were rapture rejects and would soon learn the meaning of weeping and nashing of teeth. So once again, I found myself pushed to the outside, and held up to constant ridicule. I'm not sure where the brotherly love was in all this, but it didn't appear to be high on the priority list.

There were, however, strong similarities between the two evangelical groups. Children were not highly esteemed (especially in the charismatic group), self-worth was equated with the sin of pride, life was meant for humiliation and suffering, and NEVER trust your own thoughts or intuition. They both taught any knowledge, outside of bible "knowledge", was a satanic trap. They called it carnal knowledge. Yes, to most of us the word carnal has a sexual implication (ooh, la, la!), but they preferred an older meaning which meant anything worldly, which is anything except the bible. So basically, nothing and nobody in this world is to be trusted because it all merely exists to lure us into eternal damnation. You better watch your ass, because if you believe the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, your soul would be as worthless as week old sushi.

By the time my teenage years rolled around, the home church had been moved to my home. So between home and school, I had been totally immersed in a world of absolutes, fanaticism, and superstition. It may seem impossible for someone in such a position to ever escape the emotional prison that had been built for them. But, there was a "saving grace" for me, and that was my grandparents. Most of our family didn't admit being related to us, and sure as hell never visted, but there were a few who took the time to make me feel worthwhile and let me see that there were alternatives to what I was being taught. My trusted peers had filled my brain with bullshit, but one man's bullshit is another man's fertilizer, and the seeds that were planted in my mind by my grandparents were well fertilized.

Like a lot of kids who feel like nothing they do is good enough, I started rejecting any and all input from my authority figures. I was saved, I prayed and read my bibly daily. But, it had become too tiring to sort through all the conflicting dogma that was being force fed to me. I put my trust fully in jesus that he would guide me through the darkness and lead me to the light. The college years (well, a year and a half) came with a bang. I was like a spring that had been completely compressed then suddenly let go. My baptist education had not prepared me to be an engineer, and I soon gave up on college (ok, flunked out). On my last day at college, I knew I wouldn't be coming back, and I felt like a complete and utter failure. I closed myself in my dorm room closet and began to pray for guidance, and immediately an idea came in my head to join the military. Thank you jesus!

Now, ironically, as anti-authority as I had become, the Army was just what I needed. All my life, my parents and teachers had rejected me, now the military told me that I was worthwhile and they were happy to have me. This gave my faith in jesus a second wind. At first, this was all great, but there was the war and killing thing that wasn't as glamorous as the movies had led me to believe. This is where the first serious cracks in my faith began. There was sort of a mindlessness about it that reminded me of the religon I had know in my early years. The attitude that you should just do what you are told and let the leaders worry about whether it was right or wrong, was beginning to grate my sensibilities. Where was personal resposibitlity? What about personal freedom? Could I stand in front of god on judgement day and explain that I had killed people just because Bush Sr. had told me to?

Ok, the Army wasn't right for me after all, but it did give me a sense of confidence and a personal drive. I hadn't quite learned how to think for myself yet, I just knew that what I was being told about jesus was not giving me a sense of comfort and well-being. College was not so bad the second time around, and I was successful in my studies. But, most importantly, something was changing inside of me, I was beginning to trust my instincts, and I was learning how to apply an honest critical analysis to many problems. Many hours were spent discussing god and religon with my fellow students, and I was starting to discover that the principles of christianity did not stand up to reason. And so my path to becoming a freethinker began.

I would honestly like to say that I had some epiphany and the light just turned on, but it wasn't so. Growing away from god was a slow and painful experience, but I wanted truth and was determined to find it. I had to learn that it wasn't as important for others to love me, as it was for me to love myself. Slowly, I stopped praying as it was obvious that nobody was listening, and that was no fault of mine. I became friends with agnostics and athiests, and realized they were not nihilists, but very decent, intelligent people. As a matter of fact, in most cases, they were more enlightened and happy than the religous people I had know.

Today, my parents have cooled down somewhat, and even apologized for some things, but they still put religon above family and friends. They do not communicate with me very often, and basically ignore my three children. They do not send presents or cards at birthdays, and do not acknowledge my wonderful wife (who is also recovering from religous addiction). From their occasional e-mails it's obvious that they are harboring incredible guilt for the way they treated me, and they just don't know how to make ammends. But, it only makes my mission that much clearer: love and adore my children with every ounce of energy I can muster, and maybe one day they will grow to be loving, moral people who will not rely on imaginary friends for guidance but will have enough confidence to find the power to be happy within their selves.

How old were you when you became a christian? too early to remember
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 30
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? charismatic
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? agnostic
Why did you become a christian? it was the only thing I knew
Why did you de-convert? logic / reason / couldn't handle the emotional burden
email: y2kevins at yahoo dot com

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dismissed.

I'm not going to wade through anything that starts out quoting Tony Sopran.

Gliph said...

first off, the anonymous post above is not needed... kevin has found an anology that works for him and it should be respected.

(puts soapbox away)

this is an amazing story. no matter how many "i was abused by christian beliefs" stories i hear, they are all disheartening. i am so glad that you have found this site, i am very new here as well and it is encouraging to read about your experience. thank you for sharing it.

one part of your story really got to me and its been something i've been feeling too. personal responsibility it is hard for me to put into words how this connects with me so well... it just screams to me don't be an automoton, THINK ABOUT YOUR ACTIONS!

the other thing i wanted to mention was how sad i was that your parents have basically cut off all communication and have zero interaction with your family. it is very sad to see how many people have similar experiences once they are on the "outside". i'm sure it is hard for your children to understand why they have so little contact with them. hopefully someday that will not be the case.

thank you again for sharing your story, it is inspirational and encouraging to read just like the thousands of other posts on this site....

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous, you too are dismissed. How can you dismiss an entire article based on a metaphor (in the FIRST paragraph!) that you don't like?

Kevin Smith said...

Thanks for the defense gliph and Jim, but don't worry, the dismissal isn't taken to heart. Personally, I think the Sopranos is one of the most intelligent shows I have ever seen, but I realize it's not for everyone. I find the personal complexity that is hidden behind crude, superficial exteriors to be quite a refreshing approach to a television show.

Anyway, anonymous, snap judgements and focusing on the superficial will cause you to dismiss most of the beautiful complexity that is life.

Dave8 said...

Hey Kevin, welcome, good to see that you are purging your mind of the insanity of the religiously accalimed "real-myth", the profound oxymoron, that has caused millions of deaths throughout history. Hope to see you around the boards, take care.

Gliph said...

oh, and i LOVE your movies!

hahahaha.

ok, sorry, i couldn't resist...


*ducks*

Kevin Smith said...

And don't forget about my years with the Dallas Cowboys ;)

Kevin Smith said...

Just kidding... I can neither play football or make a movie. But I love those Kevin Smiths who can do those things.

"Dogma" is a personal favorite of mine.

freeman said...

Kevin,
Welcome! Very interesting story. From someone who grew up as a heathen, pagan New Orleans catholic, your story almost seems like mental abuse. Your parents are probably sorry but do not know how to express it because at the time they were not in there right minds and while they have come around somewhat, they are still trapped. Tell them how you feel, it seems that you have nothing to lose since they do not acknowledge YOUR family. That is the new beginning for you. Concentrate on YOUR family and enjoy what you have and not what you lost.

Please pay no attention to anonymous. Since he/she has been here, he/she has done nothing but tell lies about who we are, what we believe and what our motives are regarding people who have been re-born into humanity. So much for being a christian!

jim earl said...

Greetings Kevin. Thanks for sharing your story with us and welcome to the real world, the world of reality. Like most of us here, you spent some time in the other world (fantasy) and now you are free from the chains of belief. Feels good, huh! I have been a part of both worlds and can tell you the real world is so much better. You will still have to deal with people from the fantasy world but it's ok because at least now you know the score and they no longer have any hold on you nor can they sway you away. Take comfort that you have escaped. Best of luck with your family but the truth is, they may never give up their beliefs. I know my mom won't but I can live with that. We just don't talk religion when we are around each other and that works well with us both. I have been religion free for about 5 years now after many years of doubt. I could only be happier if my wife and I shared the same views. Take care, Jim

Mary said...

Kevin
Thanks for posting your story, it just reinforces what i've gone through the past year. I'm struggling because most of my family and friends are "christians" and I'm feeling a bit lonely, but the relief I feel from the freedom is too great to make me want to return to that place I was in.

jim earl said...

Mary, I don't know if this will help you any, but consider this: I would not trade my life now as a non-believer with any previous life I had in the past. I was very religious and very satisfied that my life was complete. Then I discovered the truth and never realized how much joy was available. I would never go back, even if I didn't have a single friend. Jim

Jonathan said...

My childhood was in many ways similar to that of some of the other testimonials I’ve read online. My parents were devoted believers in Christ, and going to Sunday school for me and my brothers was not optional – it was a mandate! As I grew into my teens, I remember enjoying the fellowship of the church more and more, but also I started to see a lot of hypocrisy. I saw my friends act one way in church, and act completely different outside of the church. My father, who was an elder in the church, also conducted himself in a very un-Christian way at home, sometimes engaging in very ugly fights (verbal, not physical) with my Mom. He was a stern disciplinarian and had a difficult time expressing love toward his children. Still, he held a high position in the church. In my teen years, I gradually drifted away from the church and decided to “do life” on my own.

I am now 36 years old and I can understand why a lot of people feel resentments or are critical of Christianity, having been “burned” one way or another by the church. Televangelists certainly have not helped the cause of Christianity any, as they are all-too eager to hold out the collection plate to people who are truly financially strapped. There is no shortage of bad church or bad religion or bad Christianity testimonies… one might even suspect that we’re in the midst of some kind of campaign to discredit and disqualify and disprove the whole Christianity thing.

Consider the way God establishes his church: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” God asks that we mere men (sinners) – having believed in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as “payment” for sins – that we must now go and tell people about Him, and feed the hungry, and take care of orphans and widows and those in need. In other words, He chooses to use people who are faulty, who are damaged, who have baggage, who have been burned by the church, burned by their parents, etc. Where then does this expectation come from, I wonder, that the church (the body of believers) be perfect? Nowhere in the bible does it say the God chooses perfect people to advance his cause. Not at all. From Joel Osteen to Jerry Falwell to Kirk Cameron to C.S. Lewis to King David and Abraham and Moses and all the rest, the bible says “there is none righteous. Not one.”

There will always be opportunity to point out where Christians have fallen short, have not measured up, have not answered the call, or have even mis-represented the truths of the bible. But does that make biblical truth any less true? Consider nations like China or India where there is limited knowledge, limited “broadcast” of the Christian bible… consider places where people have never even heard the name Jesus Christ. Because they haven’t heard, does that make His sacrifice on the cross any less real?

Yet we in America, who have heard, who have read scripture, why do we focus so much on the messenger(s) – as if they’re to be held up to a standard of perfection – and then feel justified in discarding the message?

It is a tall order to ask someone who has been burned by the church to pick himself/herself up and try once again to re-establish a relationship with God. It is a tall order, if you think of it in those terms. But consider the simplicity of the bible: All have sinned (Romans 3). We have all offended a perfect and holy God. The wages (penalty) of sin is death. God shows his great love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5). If you believe that Jesus died for you, you will be saved. (Romans 10).

God has gone to great lengths to gather his children to him. Even the most well-intentioned preacher will not do for you even half of what Christ has already done, will not care for you even half as much as Christ does. Even the most well-intentioned Christian will disappoint you. That is why Jesus said about Himself “I am the WAY, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus did not come to start some religion, or to get you to church once or twice a week, or so that you could act religious and behave properly and not swear as much. Not at all. Jesus came to RESCUE. Plain and simple.

As for my Dad who recently passed on, I can only say that I’ve had to re-assess some of the feelings/resentments I’d harbored toward him. I thank God for giving me a Dad who, despite his faults/his humanity, tried very hard to teach me about Jesus. He didn’t always act like a follower of Christ should, but he tried… and a lot of children today don’t even have that much! I consider myself incredibly blessed. Thanks for hearing me out.

Amethyst said...

Well written testimony. Thanks for having the courage to post it.

Kevin Smith said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for your comments. Your post is one of the most clear, respectful christian perspectives that I have seen here.

My rejection of religon has very little to do with me being bitter about my parents. As a matter of fact, my bitterness was much worse when I sought to find the answers in Jesus. My personal path is leading me toward peace and fulfillment in reason, and finding true hope in the heart of mankind. Of course, no one is perfect and I don't expect them to be, but everyone must take responsibility for their selves in trying to become better. Christianity teaches that you are nothing without a god, and I am finding that the power for improvement lies within yourself.

Jim Lee said...

Interesting read. All the things of the world being "carnal" hit home into the time my wife and I were also in this brainwashed state of Christian propaganda. You and your wife should just turn your back on the whole business and walk away. Leaving Christianity is one of the greatest things my wife and I ever did. Check out My Testimony on my web page by clicking on my name.

jim earl said...

Thanks Jonathon, for your well written letter. I have only a few suggestions to offer. First, research the Origins of Christianity and research the bible. When you discover that the bible is not trustworthy, then you have to decide if your religion is trustworthy. My decision to leave religion was based on the things I discovered while searching for the truth, not on the treatment I received in church. I simply wanted to know if my religion was true and I discovered it wasn't. The information is out there and waiting for anyone with enough logic and reason to decide for themselves if the religion warrants the respect it is given. I vote no. I must say that you could well be a friend to both christian and atheist alike, as you seem so nonjudmental. Thanks for that. Jim

Kevin Smith said...

Jim Lee,

Yes sir, I have checked out your web pages before and found it very interesting and informative. Thanks!

Jonathan said...

Kevin,
Thanks again for sharing your heart, man. Your testimony is an honest one and I think I understand some of the choices you've made. Of course, I can't fully understand your position, but I respect your honesty.

The ONLY thing I would take issue with is your use of the word "improvement."

You say "I am finding that the power for improvement lies within yourself." That may be true, but "righteousness" is NOT something that you or I can achieve on our own.

That is why there was/is a need for Christ. As our sins were placed on him and he took them to the cross, in essence he takes the blame for our sins, conversely we get the credit (albeit unmerited) for his righteousness.

There are some very good people in this world, very smart and intelligent people out there, true. But for "righteousness" (right standing with God), Jesus said "no one comes to the Father except through Me."

Jim Earl,
I appreciate your taking time also to read my comments and to respond. Thank you for your encouragement, Jim - I do want to research the Bible more. Most of materials I read are from a Christian perspective, but I understand that there are learned authors and scholars on BOTH sides of the argument.

Reason and logic are not necessarily enemies of faith.

I'm glad I do NOT come off as judgmental, because it really is not my intent. I recognize what my life used to be, choices I used to make (and sometimes still do), people I've hurt, and I recognize that God's love is available to me IN SPITE OF all of that. The Bible says by the measure that you judge, so you will be judged.

I am no more righteous than anyone, and I am no less of a sinner.

I do want to research and dig deep and probe and find out more about this amazing God that loves us so much. But you know something I have already learned? And there really is no getting around this.

If I want to have a relationship with God and really get to know Him, it's going to have to be ON HIS TERMS, not mine.

freeman said...

Jonathan,
Here is an excellent website to start your research. " I do want to research the Bible more"

http://www.jesuspuzzle.com/

Kevin Smith said...

Jonathan,

Again, I appreciate your positive input into this discussion. All too often, these posts turn into rants, raves, and basic name calling. Now, I want to be as cordial as you have been so I hope none of the things I'm going to say sound combative, these are just some of my thoughts about the issues that you have brought up.

When you talk about HIS TERMS, who exactly is going to tell me what his terms are? An old book whose origins are highly suspect? The problem is the Bible is so vague, full of contradictions, written by men with motivations of power, and open to broad interpretations. I can't believe that is the method a being as powerful as a god would use to communicate with us. More likely, it is a method men would use to enslave us. Like the saying goes , "when you hear hoofbeats, bet on horses and not zebras" (unless you are in Africa, then just swap it around).

God is welcome to come to me anytime he likes and explain to me what his terms are, and I will be more than happy to follow them. Otherwise, how am I supposed to know who to believe?

Studies have never been able to show that Christians have decidedly lower cases of mental illness, crime or violence, it's actually quite the opposite. "Righteousness" is something that is so intangible that it cannot be observed or measured, so how do you know it exists? There is just no evidence to suggest that a belief in any god makes you a better person. If you are a better person after you start believing, it's simply because of your belief that you are a better person, not because a god made you better. Just like I feel like I am a better person for rejecting religon. The rejection probably had nothing to do with it, it's because I hope and believe I'm a better person.

Doesn't it seem kind of brutal that an all powerful god would have to send his son to die like a dog for our sins, when he could have just snapped his fingers and made all sins disappear? Why does God have such a blood lust that he requires so many things to die just to appease him? Doesn't sound like a god to me, sounds like men making excuses for their horrid behavior.

Dave8 said...

Jonathan, good to hear that you have thought through your trails growing up. Its the beginning of the journey to self-awareness. Your story, appears to reflect many LDS friends I have had in my life... Regarding, the no-fault clause for the messenger, as they were imperfect, that is centric to the bone of contention which has led many to research religion.

Christian messengers, get their messenges from other messengers, who got their message from yet, other messengers, all the way back the the original messenger Paul, who spoke of a messenger of god - Jesus... The Jews didn't believe Jesus, was "The Messiah", or the OT prophesies would have been fulfilled. In short, the "original" messenger who was said to bring the "word" of god, is centric to the major debate on the validity of "doctrinal" religion...

The "original" messengers, the authors of the biblical books, are mostly anonymous, or by many scholars suspected of having multiple authors for a single book, or the same author in some capacity for multiple titled books (synoptic gospels)... A messenger Paul, took the Jewish Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) from the Jews and taught an entirely different "Message" than those whom he took the book from, i.e., the Hebrew OT shows the Jews as the chosen and only redeemable people for god, Paul taught everyone who accepted Jesus would be saved.

The messengers along the historical timeline, continued to teach "different" messages, splintering the early Roman Church. Tertullian, was one of the earliest members of the Roman Church, and voted on the First Council of Nicaea. Where the council voted to Validate, the existence and divinity of Jesus. Almost, immediately after the vote on the divinity of Jesus, and his existence where Jesus was accepted, he left under threat of capital punishment to start his own religion, Montanism, which is very parallel to Pentecostalism today... and was considered heretical at the time to The Roman Church...

In short, Jonathan, in the very beginning of the creation of the Roman Church (Which became known as the Roman Catholic Church), which fractured, and became the offshoots of Christianity, to include Protestant and the many other denominations, there was "never" one messenger who was "accepted" as speaking "The Truth", even while Jesus was supposed to have lived...

Any message of Ultimate Truth by a God, would have been a "self-evident", irrefutable, message of truth, no "faith" necessary... this obviously never occurred...

The entire Christian religion, started from "second hand" revelation, via Paul... and thus, a second hand "message"... before, the NT was completed there were so many messengers writing messages, that the First Council of Nicaea, and further Ecumenical Councils determined which "messages" would make it into the NT cannon...

The only way the messenger can be removed from speculation, is if there is 1) irrefutable evidence regarding the "Ultimate Authority" of the messenger, or 2) irrefutable evidence in the "actual" message itself, so that it stands on its own as Absolute Truth...

Unfortunately for Christianity, there has "never" been a messenger who is historically known to be perfect, and of a God nature, therefore, the message is as distorted as the imperfect person writing the message... and, there is "no" foundational writings, that can stand on their own as Absolute Truth, which would reflect the "evidence" for an Absolutely Perfect God...

Oh, and Jesus dying on the Cross... synonymous, with, don't kill the messenger... Well, I suppose it depends on the message and the manner in which the message is given... Jesus may not have imposed his message, in the same manner as the Romans, but, here is how I see the psychological behaviors of the major players of Christianity;

Jesus = Passive Aggressive Behavior.

"Passive-aggressive behavior refers to passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to authoritative instructions in interpersonal or occupational situations. Sometimes a method of dealing with stress or frustration, it results in the person attacking other people in subtle, indirect, and seemingly passive ways. It can manifest itself as resentment, stubbornness, procrastination, sullenness, or intentional failure at doing requested tasks. For example, someone who is passive-aggressive might take so long to get ready for a party they don't wish to attend that the party is nearly over by the time they arrive.

Someone who is passive-aggressive will typically not confront others directly about problems, but instead will attempt to undermine their confidence or their success through comments and actions which, if challenged, can be explained away innocently so as not to place blame on the passive-aggressive person."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_aggressive

Paul of Tarsus = Borderline Personality Disorder With An Absolutist View

"In psychiatry, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder characterised by extreme 'black and white' thinking, mood swings, emotional reasoning, disrupted relationships and difficulty in functioning in a way society accepts as normal.

The name comes from the DSM-IV-TR; the ICD-10 in Europe has an equivalent called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Psychiatrists describe borderline personality disorder as a serious disorder characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder

Roman Emperors & Early Roman Church Fathers = Absolutists

"Absolutism is a political theory which argues that one person (generally, a monarch) should hold all power. This is often referred to as the "Divine Right of Kings", implying that a ruler's authority stems directly from God. Prominent theorists associated with absolutism include Augustine of Hippo, Paul of Tarsus, Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet, and Thomas Hobbes."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_absolutism

Early sects of Rabbinical/Orthodox Jews = Egotism

"egotism - an excessive or exaggerated sense of self-importance. In extreme forms, egoism (as egotism) may include narcissism and antisocial behavior.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egotism"

The "message" carriers haven't been the finest carriers, in my humble opinion.

jim earl said...

Jonathon:
I do want to research and dig deep and probe and find out more about this amazing God that loves us so much. But you know something I have already learned? And there really is no getting around this.

If I want to have a relationship with God and really get to know Him, it's going to have to be ON HIS TERMS, not mine.
Jim Earl: I once was just like you. Have you ever had the joy and contentment that you have discovered the truth about religion. I think not. I have been on both sides of the fence and found the religious side was full of bunk. If you want more into, go and research the Origins of Christianity. Read the book "Losing Faith in Faith" by Dan Barker for starters. There are many more books by various writers I could recommend. They are real eye openers. You don't have to have a relationship with an invisible deity to have righteousness. Righteousness is just doing right. You can accomplish that on your own, believe it or not. I promise you I get mistaken many times for being christian because of my attitude to others. When I tell these people I am atheist, they are shocked. I don't know you or how you live your life, but I can tell you this, you are no more righteous than I am. I can't speak for any other atheist or christian, because I don't know their living habits. I only know my own. Since there is no literal heaven or hell, what is it accomplishing for you to live your live in servitude to any invisible deity, other than making you feel special or good. I feel the same way because I escaped from the traps of religion. Thanks for sharing, Jimearl

Jonathan said...

Dave8,
You overlook several important items in your comments concerning the messengers carrying the Gospel message of Christ.

You are incorrect in your supposition that Christianity began as a "second hand revelation via the Apostle Paul."

First-hand eyewitness accounts are provided in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), as well as Peter's writings. Peter was, of course, one of Jesus' disciples - another eyewitness. And what of James, Jesus' brother?

Ask yourself a question: What would compel these men, after witnessing their friend Jesus (who they'd hoped would establish a new kingdom) be beaten and crucified, what would then compel them to go out and basically put their lives in peril by speaking about Jesus and this new kingdom. Perhaps because they saw this man crucified and then RESURRECTED?

It makes sense - if you think about it. Even today, people want signs. They want something they can see and touch.

Jesus said to his disciples that they would do "greater things" in their ministries than even He did, and when you consider how to this day, hearts are stirred to repentance, lives are turned around 360 degrees, and people are saved not because of HAVING SEEN, but HAVING HEARD the word of God.

You know, sometimes I think we can be too smart for our own good. Dave, you've psychoanalyzed Jesus, Paul, the Roman Church fathers, Rabbinical Jews, and all in an effort to discredit? undermine? the reliability of biblical truth.

EVEN IF I were to find your argument somewhat compelling (which I'm sorry to say, I do not) your characterizations are flawed. Jesus as passive agressive? Jesus who called the Pharisees "white-washed tombs" and "sons of Hell"... you describe Jesus as "subtle, indirect, and seemingly passive," and "not confronting others directly." This is Jesus you're talking about, right? The One who said "Do not suppose that I have to come to bring peace, but a sword..." This is the one you're suggesting was so subtle and indirect that multiple times the Pharisees and jewish elders sought to stone him.

Paul - borderline personality disorder? Hmmm. Disrupted relationships. Emotional reasoning. Mood swings. Well, I can only speculate that having God Himself appear in a flash of light and actually speaking audibly to a person JUST MIGHT disrupt their ordinary lifestyle a bit.

I am stupefied that you would reach (and I do mean "reach") to try and psychobabble an argument concerning Paul in an effort to what? undermine the reliability of scripture? Even if Paul were raving. Even if he were John the Baptist, walking around like a madman, screaming at people, eating locusts, etc... his testimony does not stand alone. His testimony is corroborated by other writers. His characterization of God is corroborated by the Old Testament and New.

As I said in my original post, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.”

If you wish, Dave, you can continue to play character assassination with Paul and other biblical writers, but you're only proving my point better... God has chosen the weak and the foolish. He has chosen sinners.

Jonathan said...

Jim Earl,
All due respect, J. You were once just like me???

You posed a question: "Have you ever had the joy and contentment that you have discovered the truth about religion?" My answer would be yes. Your wording is a little weird, though. I think you meant to ask me "Have I ever had the joy and contentment that I've discovered the TRUTH?" Yes. I have. I really have.

In my original post, I talked a little about the relationship I had with my Dad, and how now - in my maturity (somewhat) I've had to re-assess that relationship. As I grow and dig deeper and try to understand more, I am open to truth, and that may mean re-assessing some of the pre-conceived notions I'd once held. In all honesty, I don't know if the majority of writers posting on this site are likewise open (or flexible) to assess or re-assess, when needed.

Your statement, Jim, that "righteousness is just doing right." Whose definition is that? And who determines what "right" is? Is it each person's responsibility to determine what is "right" for himself or herself?

If you are correct, Jim, that "righteousness is just doing right," then that would mean the scriptures are lying when they say "there is none righteous."

You say you get mistaken for being a Christian many times.. that is a very interesting statement, because the scriptures also say that while man looks at outward deeds, "God looks at the heart."

In my previous post, I said explicitly "I am no more righteous than anyone, and I am no less of a sinner." You feel the need to remind me of this - why??? It is not an opinion of mine, I'm not trying placate anyone by saying I'm no more righteous than anybody else. I am merely saying what the scriptures say - "there is none righteous."

Even the Apostle Paul (who is much maligned on this website, I've noticed) even he said of himself "I am the chief of sinners." And he said this LATE IN HIS MINISTRY... he realized that men are sinners. We cannot stand in the presence of a Holy, Perfect, Righteous God and not feel (at the very least) unclean. In comparison to God's perfection, the scriptures say that man's righteousness is "as filthy rags."

Please try to understand.. the pursuit of Christ is not to make myself feel "special or good" (although that can happen at times).. but that is not the objective. It's not about puffing myself up. The Bible teaches that I am to consider others better than me. The Bible teaches that I am nothing. Period. The Bible teaches that all men are sinners. The Bible teaches God loved us so much (IN SPITE OF ALL THAT) that He sent his son to live a perfect life, die a savage, brutal death, and then rise, affording us the opportunity to be with the Father (covered under the righteousness of Christ).

Regardless of how it makes you or I "feel," God is worthy of our admiration, praise, and certainly our worship. God will not be mocked. His Word has stood up against meticulous scrutiny over thousands of years.

Christianity has never been (and will never be) about how good a person I am, or how good my life is compared to yours, or how good I'm suppose to feel. Christianity is merely (and ultimately) about God and how good HE is, and how much HE loves us, and the lengths to which HE has gone to afford us an opportunity to be with Him.

Many will choose NOT to be with Him. That is their (and your)prerogative, your free will. Even that speaks of the nature of God, that He loves you so much He will not impose Himself on you.

.:webmaster:. said...

"Many will choose NOT to be with Him. That is their (and your)prerogative, your free will. Even that speaks of the nature of God, that He loves you so much He will not impose Himself on you."

Then why do you impose yourself on us now? If you love us with the love of God then shouldn't you just let us alone? I mean really, we are ex-Christians. Apparently we've already heard this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over... Well, you get the idea.

Besides the analogy doesn't work anyway, because according to the Buy-Bull, we unbelievers don't choose to jump into the Lake of Fire, we are ceremoniously tossed there by your loving Gawd.

"CHOOSE TO FALL DOWN ON YOUR KNEES BEFORE MY LOVING THRONE OR I WILL TORTURE YOU FOREVER" is not a real, or a loving, offer or choice. "SUBMIT TO MY LOVE OR DIE!" sounds more like the words of a deranged sadistic rapist in a bad novel.

.:webmaster:. said...

In all honesty, I don't know if the majority of writers posting on this site are likewise open (or flexible) to assess or re-assess, when needed.

And you've come to that conclusion after reading exactly how much? And after reading exactly how long? of this site? I'll wager that you've read not much at all, either here or from any material contradicting your present world view. Snap decisions motivated by emotion and based on sketchy information may be a badge of honor for a "true believer" but mature minds wisely take more time before jumping to any conclusions. For instance, my own de-conversion was traumatic for me, and spanned about 5 years before completion. In that time period I devoured nearly a library full of apologetics, history, and systematic theologies, as well as a wealth of established commentaries. I wanted to KNOW what I believed and WHY I believed it. Oh yes, I read the Bible too - from cover to cover - dozens of times. My eventual decision to shed my religious shackles was not something I found easy or entered into lightly. It was a major decision for me, and it was while going through that process that I decided to found this site. I soon realized other people that were waking up to how deceived by religion they had been also needed a forum for support. In my experience I've noticed that ignorantly insensitive Christian amateur preaching is only too available and only too readily spouted.

Your quick judgment and dismissal of "the majority of writers posting on this site" is truly charming. Keep up the good work - I'm sure your jealous god will be pleased.

Kevin Smith said...

Jonathan,

Hey, I can see this conversation is breaking down, but try not to take what is said here to heart. Jim Earl, Dave8, and the webmaster are all very intelligent people who have been studying the Bible and Christianity for a long time, so don't be too quick to dismiss them.

They are not just trying to break you down or "piss in your cornflakes", so to speak. The issues that they are bringing up are valid arguments that, at one point in their lives, they also had to wrestle with and eventually it cracked their faith beyond repair.

I can see you are a very intelligent person also, and you have a lot of potential to do good for whatever cause you choose. IMHO, you can't use the Bible to argue for the Bible here, because most people here do not believe in it's validity. You will have to prove that validity first. What I would like to see from a person like yourself, is an intelligent, point-for-point refute of the claims that are made here. Let us make a critical examination of your evidence, and you do the same with ours (but remember, scripture cannot be considered evidence at this point).

The webmaster is very correct in saying that too many Christians stop by here, thinking they are going to spread the good news to the "heathens", and after a few posts, storm off with their feelings hurt, never to be seen here again. If what you have to say is true, there is no need to get emotional. Just present your case, and don't get bent out of shape if we don't just fall over and repent.

Jonathan said...

Kevin,
Yeah. Things are getting a little testy. Apologies. My intent is not to "impose" my point of view. I think I presumed (incorrectly) there was an "open" invitation for opposing points of view. I should have respected the fact that this specific site is for people have struggled to make difficult choices and - having finally made the choice - are now trying to encourage and empower each other.

I really hope my motive was not to disrupt that. I really hope that was not my motive.

I'm merely hoping that perhaps the faith of those posting on this site has not indeed been, as you say "cracked beyond repair."

There is a presumption sometimes that Christians sharing their faith speak from an emotional space or from blind obedience or indoctrination. That can and does happen, but I try very hard to avoid that. I consider myself not a scholar, but a student of the scriptures, and I too need to hear opposing points of view.

It is difficult to navigate friendly discourse sometimes when someone suggests that Jesus was passive aggressive, or Paul was borderline personality disorder.

For the record, Kevin, I appreciate your hearing me out.. and your WANTING to hear me out. I am not storming off with my feelings hurt, but I will respect that this site offers a safe haven, if you will, from those who have found freedom from Christianity.

Kevin Smith said...

Jonathan,

You are a scholar and a gentleman, sir.

I do hope, though, that you don't feel unwelcome here. Most people here are intellectuals and skeptics, so their nature will be to pick apart things that don't seem right to them. It's nothing personal against you.

Speaking for myself, great frustration arises from the lack of reasonable dialog that I can have with a Christian on the topic of Christianity. So many people take any questioning of the Bible as a personal attack on their character. On top of that, it seems that most Christians haven't even read the Bible very well, or know anything about it's origins. So the argument gets reduced to "that's just what I believe, and that's that!", or "well, that's not what my pastor says". So, as you can see, I am honestly seeking answers and getting very few from Christians, but all I want is respectful conversation that contains an element of reason.

Thank you for listening to my point of view.

jim earl said...

Jonathon; You read my question right but took it wrong. You would be amazed if you could see the world without faith. I was once just like you. In fact, I was raised in the Nazarene church and was both teacher and Sunday School Superintendent. I led the singing on Sunday mornings and evenings. I was dedicated to doing the Lord's will in my life. When I went on a search to find a deeper commitment and to help me better serve God I was shocked at what I found. When you find this information, you will be shocked as well. The faith goes out and you are left with only the real truth. But in the end, the real truth is the only thing that matters. I have no time left so have a good weekend. Later, Jimearl

Danny Haszard said...

Danny Haszard Bangor Maine I escaped the evil Jehovah's Witness Cult to find freedom under the LORD Jesus Christ and you can too. Learn more at www.dannyhaszard.com

Dave8 said...

Jonathan: "You are incorrect in your supposition that Christianity began as a "second hand revelation via the Apostle Paul."

Lets see...

Jonathan: "First-hand eyewitness accounts are provided in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), as well as Peter's writings. Peter was, of course, one of Jesus' disciples - another eyewitness. And what of James, Jesus' brother?"

You need to study the synoptics... here...

"Among the canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke include many of the same passages in the life of Jesus and sometimes use identical or very similar wording."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel

One must presuppose that the apostles actually lived, and the books of the NT weren't written by people much later in CE, than when Jesus was speculated to have lived. If you read the dating of the scriptures, you will indeed find that many if not all are dated much later than 30CE, and throw in the fact, that the traditional Romanized Jesus was only around for "three" years...

Again, the Jews, didn't mention Jesus... once... in their Jewish Old Testament, or their Talmud which held most "all" of their oral tradition, now how would a messiah have slipped through, it wouldn't have, therefore, there is much speculation that Jesus was not actually living in the Judean area, where the Jews lived, but that some of the earliest Christians were preaching of a Jesus in Egypt, while the Jews who lived in the area, never Knew a Jesus of Nazareth... The Jews were also persecuted, once the Romans entered Christianity as a state religion, proclaiming that "their" messiah showed up, and they just missed the boat...

And, the other point regarding the gnostic writings, etc., shows that Jesus was portrayed by many early writings, as a mortal healer, etc. If one wants to assert that all of the earlier writings are first hand accounts, then, you must accept that the "other" gnostic, writings must have the potential to also be "fist hand accounts"...

"The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered in the town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. That year, thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by local peasants. The writings in these codices comprised 52 mostly Gnostic tractates (treatises), but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation of Plato's Republic. The codices are believed to be a library hidden by monks from the nearby monastery of St Pachomius when the possession of such banned writings denounced as heresy was made an offense. The zeal of Athanasius in extirpating non-canonical writings and the Theodosian decrees of the 390s may have motivated the hiding of such dangerous literature.

The contents of the codices were written in Coptic, though the works were probably all translations from Greek. Most famous of these works must be the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete copy. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings of Jesus appeared in manuscripts that had been discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. The 1st or 2nd century date of the lost Greek originals behind the Coptic translations is controverted, but the manuscripts themselves are from the 3rd and 4th centuries."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Hammadi_library

Again, the Jews closest to the geographic area where a Jesus was supposed to have lived, didn't "know" a Jesus... Some of the earliest Christians, who believed Jesus if he did live, was mortal?

The Ebionites:
"Several modern scholars, including Hyam Maccoby, Robert Graves, Joshua Podro, Hugh J. Schonfield, Keith Akers, Benjamin Urrutia, and others, believe that the Ebionites, being led by the relatives of Jesus, probably were more faithful to the original and authentic teachings of Jesus than Paul was."
"The Ebionites emphasized the humanity of Jesus as the mortal son of Mary and Joseph, who was 'adopted' as a son of God when he was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, and therefore could have become the messianic king-priest of Israel (by virtue of also being both a descendant of king David through his father and a descendant of high priest Aaron through his mother) but was chosen to be the last and greatest of the prophets."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites

Jonathan, I could continue to pump information, based on logic, based on alternative accounts, and based on the "fact" that "you" personally don't have a first hand account of Jesus... I could also make claims that Paul himself, never stated he "saw" Jesus, but that is neither here nor there... Point is, no one has "first hand" knowledge and alive today, if one wanted to say, go to the source, that would be the Orthodox Jews, and they also believed in a mortal Jesus heretic...

Well, enough for now, I don't feel compelled to hit the remainder of your post, until you can support your argument for "first hand" revelation, and... by the way, I hold a degree in social science, and have been employed to 'ascribe' psychobabble... I made observations based on the characters in the bible and their antics, I suppose if I cared, I could add that "Paul" is a thief for stealing the Jewish Tanakh, and preaching his own flavor of Oral Tradition, which then, becomes "lying"... Yes, Jonathan, he lied, when someone takes the "words" from a religious culture, and teaches it in an entirely different manner, i.e., the gentiles can receive salvation, etc., its lying...

Anyway, I wont' get into a moral debate, but if you want, I have some great arguments...

Jonathan said...

Dave8,
I have homework to do. You make interesting arguments and although I do know (a little) about the gnostics and about The Gospel of Thomas, certainly I don't enough to refute what you say. I'm still curious about the varied accounts of "a Jesus" (moral healer, adopted son, etc.) showing up in varied different locales. Is your point then that - although there is documentation of a person who lived by the name of Jesus - that the reliability of the canonical gospel accounts are suspect? We can not be sure of when the canonical gospels were actually written, and by whom, and by how many authors? Am I understanding you correctly? I'm not being argumentative. I just want to be sure I'm understanding what you're saying.

I have to smile, though, Dave8, as you feel the need to underscore the fact that Paul was a liar and a thief. I thought we'd already established that. Most Christians also believe that he was a MURDERER, that he persecuted Christians (prior to his own experience of conversion). You're suggesting that his lies included twisting religious doctrine to invent/suit his own belief system? Okay. It's a valid argument.

I'm not saying I agree with anything you're saying. But you have made a valid argument.

I'm curious about your thoughts on the book of James. My belief is that it was written by Jesus' brother. Your thoughts?

Dave8 said...

Jonathan: "I'm not saying I agree with anything you're saying. But you have made a valid argument."

Jonathan, you aren't agreeing with anything I am presenting, even though the information is solid, because your "belief" is in the way... You aren't here to challenge your "belief", and someone who believes in purple dragons, can't be challenged by others, a need is being met by your belief, and you can't allow that need that is being fulfilled to be challenged... perhaps, when the underlying need fades away, will you slide more toward a neutral stance when searching for truth in your life...

Jonathan: "I'm curious about your thoughts on the book of James. My belief is that it was written by Jesus' brother. Your thoughts?"

Jonathan, I will make a comment, however, its still relative to the life a Jesus' character, and which stance one group takes between the many different views of Jesus... and no, there was only "one" Jesus character central to the religious writings of that era...

If you take the approach, according to the NT, Matthew, who cites Isaiah, as the fulfillment of a child who was born of a 'virgin' birth (which I don't accept for historical reasons), then, you must accept that "James" and any other brother of sister Jesus would be capable of having, would be that of a "half" brother or sister... Remember, if Jesus was born of a ghost, he is not biologically tied to "any" of Joseph's children... Anyway, I am sure, there is another view, perhaps, the Ebionites, who believed Jesus to be a mortal, would accept James as a true brother... but, that would just remove Paul's message, that all man-kind is saved because of the sacrifice of a man-god... well, that is, if we are to believe a liar, thief, and murderer... jailed by the romans for persecution of Christians earlier in his evangelical career as Saul...

Jonathan said...

Dave8,
Consider for just a moment that everything you have said in your previous e-mail is ABSOLUTELY NEW to me.. consider that possibility. Could you at least give me the opportunity LOOK UP and VERIFY the sources you cite, the references you make before I make up my own mind and say - Yes, I agree with what you are saying.

Can I have the opportunity to research to LOOK UP the Ebionites, at least?

Your jumping to the conclusion that I am RESISTING what you say merely because it challenges my faith is ARGUMENTATIVE and it's not helping things.

Am I to accept what you say as TRUTH merely because you said it?

In the same way, I DON'T accept what my pastor says just because he says it. That would be foolish!

I am by nature an analytical person and will do the research that has been suggested. Thanks for getting back to me.

Dano said...

The only thing standing between me and heaven is that I must believe that God, who created everything, screwed up and made us with the propensity do stuff that pisses him off,

... decided 3 thousand years later that he would impregnate one of his mortal virgin creations, produce a son,

...and then arrange to have him sacrificed to himself, to atone for the sinfulness that he created in us in the first place,

... and then have people who thought the earth was flat and the center of the universe, write these rules down via a scattered collection scribblings.

Given the fact that the average 6 year old today would look like a genius compared to these people, I need for God to speak to me personally, and splain all of this.

I believe he WILL, because when he wasn't giving orders to kill and rape people, he was telling us how much he loves us,

...and I sho! don't want to burn forever and ever in dat lake of fire!

Dave8 said...

Jonathan, if you are truly in the mode of research with an open mind, then, good luck... The point being made, is pretty straight forward, and that's... entire cultures saw the character Jesus much differently than others...

Entire religions are founded with differing views of Jesus, Gnostics, Orthodox Jews and the Myriad of Jewish Sects Modern Day, Islam, etc... they all claim to have the "right" words in their book(s)...

Point is, not everyone can be "right", and therefore, it requires some "test" to determine who is telling the fib... well, we get Paul in the midst of the Jews and the Roman culture... that doesn't put a lot of credibility on the table for Christianity with him as the catalyst...

The Orthodox Jews, state that their Jewish Tanakh, which is the Christian Hebrew Old Testament is legitimate, but Jesus' name doesn't appear in the Old Testament... you get apologists pulling their hair out, claiming the words "messiah", "emmanuel", etc., are all representative of Jesus, they're just code words...

Anyway, before, you start doing in depth research, just know, you are going to find a lot of differing views... the harder question will be to tell which are giving the closest historical account that reflects the the truth...

If you go with the majority view, that makes Jesus mortal... If the majority view doesn't win, then you go back to the beginning of the era, and that would be of the Jews, who stated under death, that Jesus was a mortal and not their Messiah... as a matter of fact, a "messiah" to the Jews, was by definition, just a mortal, carrying out the job given them by god...

If you discount the majority view, and also discount the earliest religion in the region where a Jesus was said to have lived (Jews), then perhaps you move on to the writings of the NT which are the few that portray Jesus as a man-god, but, there has to be a "reason" one would choose to accept those scripts over all the other ones of the era that portray Jesus in a different manner...

Perhaps, studying to history of how the NT was created would be the best place to start...

Ecumenical Councils:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecumenical_council

"The Council of Nicaea was historically significant because it was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.1 "It was the first occasion for the development of technical Christology".2 Further, "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the church."3 With the creation of the Nicene Creed, a precedent was established for subsequent general councils to create a statement of belief and canons which was intended to become orthodox for all Christians. It would serve to unify the Church and provide a clear guideline over disputed matters on what it meant to be a practicing Christian, a momentous event in the history of the Church and subsequent history of Europe."

First Council of Nicaea:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

Consensus, means... voted upon, yep, there was a vote, because of the many varying views of "faith", and whallah, after the vote... Constantine said, let there be "Christendom"... The NT wasn't formed at this time, because no one knew which way the "vote" would go... however...

"The New Testament canon as it is now was first listed by St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in 367, in a letter written to his churches in Egypt. That canon gained wider and wider recognition until it was accepted by all at the Third Council of Carthage in 397. Even this council did not settle the matter, however. Certain books continued to be questioned, especially James and Revelation. Even as late as the 16th century, theologian and reformer Martin Luther questioned (but in the end did not reject) the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation. Even today, German-language Luther Bibles are printed with these four books at the end of the canon, rather than their traditional order for other Christians. Due to the fact that some of the recognized Books of the Holy Scripture were having their canonicity questioned in the 16th century by Protestants, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the traditional canon of the Scripture as a dogma of the Catholic Church."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_testament

Jonathan, I am not telling you that your belief is wrong, everyone has their own views... The only point I typically try to make, is... no one knew back in the "day" or "era" whether a Jesus character was "historically" true, much less truly a "man-god"... It required the Roman Emperor Constantine to step in, and force a group of elected officials to "vote" on the matter of "trinity", Jesus' nature i.e., god or mortal, which books were holier than others, etc... It's obvious that letters, and epistles weren't selected for the NT canon until well into the late third century over three hundred years after a Jesus was said to have lived... and based on the "vote" of a group of religious folks from different geographical regions... wanna know which "geographical" region wasn't selected with any great numbers... how about the area where they say "Jesus" was supposed to have lived... Anyway, even those who voted at the First Council of Nicaea left, claiming the vote a fraud, i.e., Tertullian...

"Tertullian denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted views that came to be regarded as heretical themselves. He was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "father of the Latin Church". He introduced the term Trinity, as the Latin trinitas, to the Christian vocabulary[1] and also probably of the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "treis Hypostases, Homoousios") and also the terms vetus testamentum/old testament and novum testamentum/new testament. Tertullian left the Church of Rome late in his life and joined the heterodox Montanists, thus explaining his failure to attain sainthood."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tertullian

Anyway, if you want a true picture to put things into context, you should build a timeline of events, and geographical locations, and that will give you a much better view of what was happening in the big picture... when there is a conflict on dates, you will have to look at the reasons why some choose one date and others don't... enjoy your journey...

Forever and ever said...

Kev its not an easy thing to climb out of the pit of christianity.I am still having some problems after 16 months.I have found it best to stay away from any religious books of any type.I also have now decided to stay away from all religious people.By doing that I have found that the athiest type to be more entelligent.Having answers that make sence.
I was traped for 17 years confessing that jesus christ is lord.Now I am becoming an athiest.
at first I was in denial god exists god created.Now I am starting to believe that god never existed.I tried praying jesus show yourself to me and nothing happened I have also prayed god please help me.That never worked either.
What troubles me the most is that during my 17 years in the pit Not one person confronted me about what I believed.Not one man came and tried to explain to me the errors of the bible.All it would have taken to set me free was a site like jesusneverexisted.com.
Christians need to be challenged.
Dave8
thanks again for helping me with what you had written earlier in relation.Jesus and paul .You uncovered once again more of my own error.Science is excellent evolution rules.
Jonathan
jesus said I have come not to bring peace but a sword.yet he is called The Prince of peace.How is this so.The bible also says that Blessed are the peace makers.Does that mean .That jesus is not blessed.

Dave8 said...

Hey Forever and Ever, hope things are well with you... Glad to hear that you are researching and learning, that's what I've been donig for the past year, and still going :-) I definitely don't have all the answers, but I know enough to know what "isn't" right, and for me, that's a start... take care...

Kevin Smith said...

Forever and Ever,

Thanks, I appreciate the support. You are right about how hard it is to leave. I imagine it's much the same as how hard it is for some people to leave an abusive relationship. The person being abused feels that it's somehow their fault, and it's too hard to face the apparent lonliness of being on their own.

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