From Fissure to the Abyss

sent in by Dude

I was born-again at 10 years of age (asked Jesus into my heart). I have been in many gospel groups. I have been on many praise & worship teams. I have been a choir director, have served on 2 church elder/deacon boards.

I very recently realized that the Biblical foundation on which I have stood has flaws. I very recently realized that the unanswered prayers and random events of prayers answered (coincidences) were just that: randomness. I am numb right now. Most of my life has been involved in religion and serving a non-existent God.

I love Jesus. I love Christianity. Yes, still. I love what it stands for and what it represents. But it is untrue.

My wife is a born-again Pentecostal. Her mother is also.

I'll tell you where I started doubting...

I prayed for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit according to the Book of Acts and my (Pentecostal) Church with evidence in speaking in tongues for about 25 years. It never happened. My prayer was never answered. So I figured that may be speaking in tongues was mis-interpreted by the Pentecostals. OK, so maybe the church had misunderstood about the infilling of the Holy Spirit in Acts...maybe the other denominations were right about the infilling. There were other prayers that were answered and others that weren't throughout the years.

However, it was during my second iteration of serving on a board of directors of a church (I had served before about 11 years ago in another church in another area) that I started having problems with Christians (the problems were the same, I just thought this time it would be different). The problem was that the Christians in leadership and making the decisions and running things were for whatever reason unable to do the things that Jesus said to do. I'm not talking about sins, I'm talking about ethics*, and injustices that were the antithesis of what Jesus' "ethics" were as portrayed in the Bible. You know, the whole "WWJD" thing. What do you think all those "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets were about? They were about reminding us of keeping our eyes on Jesus and doing what he would have us to do ethically. I found it strange that these people in power in the church were least able to do what Jesus said to do ethically.

How could that be? Here were VERY learned people, not only leaders in the community but also in the church, extremely knowledgeable in Bible studies, prayer warriors, etc. Yet they were unable to muster the power of our risen Saviour and ethically execute like Him. How could that be? Here were people who were born-again of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, filled with the very Holy Spirit of God and yet they were utterly helpless in acting according to the simple ethics given to them by our Lord. How could that be? Here were people who were in prayer more than any other people I have seen, who read their Bible more than others, had faith the size of Texas, were rooted and grounded in Christ, yet they were absolutely helpless in abiding by SIMPLE Christian ethics. How could that be?

I had started doubting God by seeing how others (and myself) in leadership, and the most biblically studied, treated the common Christian contrary to Christian ethics put forth by Jesus Himself. We ushered in and praised the Physicians and prominent businessmen with all the honor worthy of a Sadducee or Pharisee. I was in Christian leadership in many facets. In many places, in many denominations. Same non-Christian (and basically evolutionary) ethics** prevailed everywhere in every Christian based system. Don't you imagine there could be one Christian in leadership who could understand the simple Christian ethics from the Sermon on the Mount by mustering the power of the Holy Spirit? One? just one? I never saw it. Never.

Well, of coarse, the first stuff I heard (and had said before myself) was "Get your eyes off man and onto God" just because they cry "Lord!, Lord!" does not necessarily mean they are of Christ. But, all of them?!?! [I later realized that this "Get your eyes off man and onto God" stuff was a blatant attempt to eschew personal responsibility]

This is where the problem started. I could not sit on the Board of Directors again and be a part of the decision making executive process that defied the very teachings of my Lord and Saviour. The level of hypocrisy is unbearable...and it wasn't purposeful, but it was willful. I can understand mistakes. People are human and make mistakes. I can understand that. But calculated injustices were tearing at my heart. Again, this was not an isolated incident. I was in many forms of leadership in many different Churches and even several different denominations over the years. Since I sang and traveled, I have experienced much more than the average Christian even does. This was not an isolated incident but a continuing parade of injustices and ethical inequities perpetrated by Christian leaders everywhere I had ever been close enough to observe them.

Anyway, that is where the crack started. How could people empowered by prayer, salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit willfully be unjust having full knowledge of Christ? Was God not strong enough? I know man is not strong enough but can't man access a tiny bit of Godly power through prayer or something to act Christlike?

I was not stupid. I recognized the fissure as a possible way of Satan getting my eyes off God. My past prayers were answered randomly. Nothing trustworthy. So I prayed more, I read more (bible), I studied more (Christian Apologetics), I focused more on God and I cried out to God saying" Please, Lord, help me! This is hurting me spiritually and I beg and cry out for your help!" I continued to pray and seek the face of God. But nothing happened. Why didn't God help me? Why? I am begging for spiritual help...I am not begging for a car, or food, or anything material...i'm begging for SPIRITUAL help. It did not come.

Now, this isn't over a couple of weeks or something...this went on for months and even several years as I weakened yet still cried out to God to help me spiritually. I can accept God not answering physical prayer, but spiritual was another matter. I realized that I did not have it in me spiritually, so I asked for some simple assistance from God. Spiritual assistance. It didn't come. I did not remain idle during these times. I prayed more, read more, sought God more. Yet, nothing. I delved much more deeply into Christian apologetics and Christian Science (as opposed to evolutionary science;not the religion). Some hope but more confusion as to why Jesus, who came to tell simple things to simple people, couldn't answer these new problems simply but with a twisting, spinning, excuse making, apologetics. This is where the simplicity of Christs message starts to fail.

I have always believed that God would not allow Satan to give you more than you can bear. But that is exactly what happened. The spiritual crack widened but I still turned to God and cried out for help. I still do to this day. But nothing has happened...what am I to believe? It was more than I can bear. Why would God allow his servant more than he could bear? I have had trials before. I have even had spiritual "deserts" before. This was raw abandonment.

I have seen God fail other faithfuls also. People who I had known very well. Knew their hearts, their works, etc. As leaders we promoted and talked about the ones who said that they succeeded spiritually. But from the platform, I always saw the utter despair in the eyes of the ones sitting in the pews out there that did NOT have a spiritual movement, yet asked in humble desperation. While the others were celebrating the awesomeness of God and ignoring the ones whom God didn't answer, I did the opposite.

I started looking for Christians who were experiencing what i was for some form of support. I came across something by a Christian who started asking some hard questions to leadership and they ignored him, snubbed him, or treated him as a heathen simply because he had questions. He finally got upset and wrote his questions down on one paper but no Christians would address them without putting a "spin" on things (here is his page http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/buckner/tough.html)

I understand spiritual deserts. But this was more than i could bear. How could the God I served most of my teenage years and adult life allow this to happen to me? My faith had been rock solid, far larger than a grain of mustard seed. My faith was strong even though God wasn't answering my spiritual prayers. I knew that it took strong faith to continue as a Christian. But eventually, it wears on your faith. Faith only lasts so long. I was a spiritually strong individual but not infinitely strong. For infinite strength, I relied on an infinite God. I served and prayed and did works and did spiritual things...everyting that was asked. I was clean, didn't have ill in my heart...nothing. The only place I ever really needed His help was with this spiritual fissure. It never came, it was more than I could bear as a mere mortal, humble human. I needed a God, and He was not answering.

I still hope and pray and have some faith that there is a God and He will pull through. Until then, I have to face some facts: My past prayers were never answered faithfully...they were random and haphazard at best; there are flaws in the very foundation that I stood on...the Bible. There are verses that are presented by the author of http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/ that can not be ignored, excused, or spun. I found this site by asking why God wouldn't answer my simple spiritual prayer. I do find flaws in some of the logic used in the amputees site and in some of the items presented...but many are unavoidably strong.

I still pray to the God I have loved and served for over 25 years. I still pray for a change in my spirit. I don't want to be an un-believer. I abhor the crumbling of my every truth. But the real truth doesn't care. It can be ignored and whitewashed but it is still there whether you or I consider it or not. I still pray and have a fading hope that God is using me to fall away and come back for a more powerful message and glorification to his works. But in all honesty, once the magic of finding out that Santa Claus is not a real entity, a innocence has been lost. And it can never really come back.

Strange...as we are young and innocent that we strive and crave to reach the truth of adulthood, yet once we find out the real truth we want that innocence and idealism back.

Even if Christianity is a facade, I want it back. I want to believe again. I want the wonder of God back in my soul. Even if Christianity is whitewash over reality, I want it back again. The truth is you can't go back, and if you do it is never the same and you regret you have gone back.

I am not happy about this phase of my life. I love Christianity. My whole life has been spent as a Christian. I still love Jesus and the God I have served most of my life. But I am afraid that love is just leftover emotions from a lifetime of servitude. I still believe in the Christian ethic. I still love my neighbor. But all God had to do was to strengthen my spiritual weakness and I would not have been here. It was a simple prayer that a God who created the universe and had millions of angels at His call would be more than capable of actuating. He either didn't because he didn't care, was incapable, or was never there to begin with.


*SOME Christian ethics from thread: http://whydoesgodhateamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=280.0

Breaking it down we have:

1) Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

2) Sacrifice yourself for your community.

3) Give yourself, every single day, to making humanity better, and building the bonds of your community.

4) Forgive totally

** For simplification I personally defined two ethical constructs 1 was evolutionary/worldy/survival-of-the-fittest. This you see in everyday life and in business. It is primarily dog-eat-dog style of ethics. Use the weak to profit...climb the ladder by putting others down etc. Complete opposite of my definition of Christian ethics listed above.


Valparaiso
IN
USA
How old were you when you became a Christian? 10
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 39
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Born again, spirit filled fundamentalist Christian, deacon-elder-church board, and Praise and Worship leader
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Agnostic
Why did you become a Christian? To be closer to Jesus
Why did you de-convert? Christians proving their God impotent.

48 comments:

jim earl said...

I can understand your feelings because I and most others here went thru somewhat of the same things in our realization that there is no truth in religion. But why feel so much despair when you have discovered the truth? Be thankful that you have joined the world of reality. You are gonna be fine and in the near future, you will laugh that you felt this way. Believe me, I went thru the same things but now I'm happier and more satisfied than I ever was during my many years of servitude to an untrue idea. Celebrate your freedom! Sincerely, Jim Earl

muttmutt1978 said...

the thing to me that Jesus taught and many christians miss, is to be a leader. follow nobody but your heart. it was Paul that said the heart is decietful. doesnt matter. one day the christian tree will be seen by many as a rotten tree and not just a small minority. and even if it isnt, one day non xians will fight back. btw i found a website called fundies say the darndest things and you cna comment on what they say: www.fstdt.com

muttmutt1978 said...

http://www.fstdt.com/ ahh there it is

xrayman said...

Hey There,
I sought out God many times in my 43 years but have never felt a spiritual sign from above. I always thought there was something wrong with me for so many years. I guess my inner bullshit detector just kept going off whenever I tried to find God. It was totally out of my control. I know if God were real he would have over ridden the bullshit detector. I now realize the reason that God never came into my heart. He was never there. Great story. The botton line is the fact that you can't believe what isn't there.

Albert said...

I can certainly relate to your sense of loss. It gets easier with time but there's always a sense of loss nevertheless. Since I left I've been reading about all sorts of different ways people approach spirituality (some wacky and some quite insightful) and I find a lot of wisdom and comfort in my readings even though I don't think I could ever formally join any kind of organized spirituality again.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly relate to your story. My coming to Christ was for all the "hiden" answers to lifes problems, plus I didn't want to go to hell, I still don't. It is interesting that at age 39 your world has a differant outlook. I think alot of people at this age including myself have to re-examine everything.

My Christian life was the same in a lot of ways. First there was the Pentacostal church, then as time and study went on I changed churches and finally ended up in a dispensational church that rightly divided the word of truth. That is, they did not believe in tongues and clung to Paul, the apostle of the gentiles. That made perfect sense to me. Then we studied the preservation of God's word and that where I hit my stumbling point when comparing all the differant versions and seeing they really did have differant sentence structure and direction of thoughts. The group I was with believed the King James was the only inspired, preserved word of God. I got to thinking to myself, why would God "hide" want I thought He would want everyone to know ( the way of salvation) in 17th century verbage that a modern person can barely understand? Also, being in the dispensation of grace and NOT expecting miracles, or answered prayers the way the original disciples did. I basically had a belief system that had me living like an atheist anyway. I just went to work, saved, did the best I could and hoped for the best. I got to thinking all a person needs Jesus for is salvation, not in this world.

I'm like you, I hope there is a heaven and everything. But, I saw that on Earth I was basically on my own. The innosense is gone also. The last several years have been a regrouping of my earthbound mind. The universe doesn't care if I am good. By seeing the natural disaters of late. Life on Earth is a crap shoot and life indiscriminately takes whoever, whenever. We live on a living Earth that does it own thing.

I wish you the best in sorting out your thoughts. I think what I discovered in not going to church anymore is that I am just becoming HUMAN. I didn't go off and start "sinning" and going out to bars to get whores and rob banks. I do what is comfortable for me. To Thine Own Self Be True!

Jim Lee said...

My wife and I have been through much the same thing as you. However, today, after extensive research of my own we are now both atheists. I managed to babble off in tongues. Once you initially start (this is the hard bit as you feel a bit of a fool to begin with) and practice this babble, you can get very adept at it. People seem to think your closer to this supposed God if you can be a good tongue talker. My research began when I kept getting fobbed off by the supposed Christian experts. I was told on many occasions not to be a Lone Ranger, and just trust in God. Anyway to cut what could be a long story short is the fact that there is a real world out there, once you can except the fact that all religions are a con of great magnitude. Christianity being the biggest fraud of them all, for the simple reason they invented the Jesus myth. There is no historical Jesus no matter what Christian body or group has to say on the issue. They literally have no reliable documented proof of his existence. Once you can turn your back on this whole scenario and totally walk away you weill begin to wonder how you ever remained in this make believe state of mind manipulation.

infidel666 said...

Welcome Neo to the truth and the light. Sorry to hear your having a tough time with the conversion. Unfortunately that is what happens when you choose the red pill. In time you will realize you can't mourn for something you never really had. Give it some time and focus on the benefits you have gained, not what you think you have lost.
If you want you can read my story, just click on my name. Once again welcome.

Evelyn said...

There are several former ministers who are members on this site. Look around for them. They know what you are going through.

Sorting out your thoughts and beliefs is a long process and can be frightening. It can seem scary and lonely, though I think you have found a good support group here. All of us on this site are on this path. Welcome to Ex-C!

Dave s. said...

It's hard to give up on beliefs that you have held for your entire life and were instilled in your childhood not only in the sense that everything you thought was true was a lie but also in the fact that you may become outcast from not only your friends but possibly your own family. My suggestion to you is to study up and instead of using "faith" in a world of religion use education, learning and science to find out about how the natural world actually exists and why. There are multitudes of information about natural sciences on the internet some big names I suggest you look up are; Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, Steven Hawkins. I remember a statement that old dogs can't learn new tricks I find this idea to be preposterous, humans have the gift of intelligence and once you start to learn more you’ll find that life is much grander and more beautiful than any picture of reality that religions offer.

mq59 said...

Infidel666,

Never really had? He sure sounds like a Christian to me.

CS Lewis was a wise man. Perhaps reading some of his writings would be helpful.

Heathen Sister said...

MQ59:

Infidel666 meant that
renouncing xianity isn't losing something because there was never anything there to begin with except a fanatsy.

No one is denying he was a xian. It's simply that xianity is a void of nothingness.

Man, your not just brain washed, you're not very bright in general.

Anonymous said...

The bible says that "Him that cometh to me I will not cast out."
Psalm 51...wasnt David feeling the same way and his prayer was "Wash me and I will be clean". There is No other name by which men can be saved other than Jesus. Keep believing in Him and He will make Streams to flow in the desert. The only thing I can do for you is to pray for you as you go through this desert experience.

tigg13 said...

Anonymous said "The bible says that "Him that cometh to me I will not cast out." blah blah blah. In other words, keep your eyes closed, your ears shut and ignore that painful emptiness you feel inside while the church blithly drains you of everything you are. Its like being in an abusive relationship; you keep getting kicked and smacked around and taken for granted, but you're always expected to keep coming back for more. Life is too short to waste it on a pointless (and expensive) fantasy that only leaves you feeling lost and despondant. You've got to put your faith in yourself - trust yourself and try to find what makes you happy.

Anonymous said...

ive felt this way recently. there come a time wen i just felt suddenly disconnected and i think "Lord where are You?" . but yes, i hve held on to the faith.
pls dont stress over how other christians dont seem to even try or be empowered to become more like Jesus. u may not know wats goin on inside. ive found that fear, anxiety and stress are "joy stealers" i used to stress and think too much abt changing pple for God, saving souls, etc the thing is, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
and then i heard God's Spirit whisper to me; "Relax. Don't worry too much. Leave it to me."

it now occurs to me that i tell and give God of all my worries and anxieties, and i feel much better. i trust Him to take care of everything as i continually take up my cross and follow Him.

the joy of the lord is your strength.

my joy has been restored!


I sincerely hope that u wont stray away. I'll be praying for You.

in the meantime, fellowship with other christians. for me, they lift my spirits up.

The bottom line is:
Don't be discouraged! look around the world. i sense God's Spirit moving powerfully! especially in australia where i hear a revival. the hillsongs movement encourage me, and sometimes wen i hear their songs a wave of whoosh! comes over me. they r so anointed. planetshakers are AWESOME too!

recently going to a youth camp (i live in SE asia btw) i felt completely at home as everyone were ive met were changed to become more christlike. yes! what u wanted to hear is very true! there ARE true christlike christians..

God is raising up a generation!!!

I've got a Saviour and He's living in me, whoa!
I wanna know...
I wanna knw You today
and You're the best thing that has happened to me
and the world will never take
the world will never take You away....

-"what the world will never take - hillsong united

DONT BE DISCOURAGED!

p.s. lurves_it@yahoo.com

mq59 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mq59 said...

Heathen_sister,

Ah. Just clarifying. For a sec, infidel666 sounded like those people y'all complain about who show up, say "you never really were a Christian," and then run away.

I thought that this comment did not make a lot of sense, considering the low esteem the yell-and-run crowd is held around here.

Not very bright? I got a 1450 on my SAT (acing the verbal) and came into college with 29 credit-hours from APs (almost a whole year's worth of credit).

I admit the possibility that I could be wrong; however, I am not an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Former Christian, take heart. There is no “truth” to the stories of Shakespeare, for example, yet his tales contain some of the best wisdom and guidance for life, both what to do and what not to do. All classic literature contains the same, not to mention great song lyrics, movies, and inspiring art and sculpture that show us that along with being beasts we humans also can be beautiful. Similarly there is a great deal of value in religious stories and maxims of all kinds. Only a fool thinks that “love your neighbor as yourself” is bad advice. Only a dunce dismisses the deep metaphysical values of the metaphors of the world’s many creation stories. But as you have discovered, taking metaphor literally and aspiring to an idealized existence shaped by supernatural archtypes leads to despair. Take heart. That despair tempers the soul into a far more resilient entity than faith ever could. In time you will realize that human life is a here-and-now dance of melancholy and joy, much more satisfying than any religious promise of eternal bliss “someday.”

heathen sister said...

OH, MQ59:

I can tell you are very young....you still think SAT scores and AP credits mean something.

Too bad there's not a test for common sense.

I never said you were an idiot, but if you really thought Infidel666 was a hit-and-run xian, maybe I should change my mind.

Anonymous said...

we always hear about the god-shaped hole in all of us. i believe that this hole was created by religion, much like a craving for a cigarette doesnt happen unless you start smoking. when we are told our whole lives that there is a god who loves us and will always be in our corner, we begin to need that god. and then when christianity stops making sense to us we go into this withdrawal because suddenly we dont have this all powerful being on our side--we feel alone, even abandoned. the biggest lesson we can learn in all this is that how we feel has no effect on reality. simply wanting a god to exist does not make it so, just like wishing there was no death in the world does not happen simply because we wish it so.

Anonymous said...

For about five years I constantly took time out from life and knelt by my bed in tears begging the lord and saviour to reveal himself to me in some tangible way and it never happened. Then I stood up, wiped away my tears and began to reason; If god existed and loves us, he would make himself known to us. It's all a load of rubbish. Once you release that, the liberation is marvellous, the freedom and feeling of bobbing up back to the surface of reality is the most wonderful, heart freeing feeling in the world.

mq59 said...

Someone would have to be a major idiot if they thought someone with the user-name infidel666 was a "hit-and-run."

I commented on how he sounded a lot like one--upon first look, it appeared he was saying the guy's faith was never genuine--and how odd that seemed.

infidel666 said...

Me a hit and run christian? LOL I don't think soooooo.
Perhaps differences in locations and my choice of wording caused some confusion. With me being pennsylvania dutch that can easily happen. Don'tcha know? :)

mq59 said...

Don't worry about it. I haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately, so I might have misread it.

freedy said...

Welcome Dude! I too was a music
minister and xian musician for 20 years.You and I were probably in the best part of "church service ",
which might be why your mourning
the old lie you've left behind.
I hope you will continue to be encouraged by the wonderful people on this site,....peace!

Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing your story. The fact is-- religion is man-made -- and men (and women!) can be prideful, arrogant, creepy, self-serving, jealous, insecure, mean, confused, hurt, and clueless. Prideful men can become pastors and some people enter into "Christianity" for the high or the experience or attention or good feelings and crave more and more of the experience(tongues, healings, signs and wonders, miracles, incredible worship experiences) -- it becomes all about the feeling. Or it becomes about who has the best music or arguing Bible scriptures or who preaches the best sermons or what church has the most people or the classiest lobby or the children's Sunday School that looks like Disneyland.

But none of that is God. God is so big we can't comprehend Him. How dare we figure Him out anyway if He created us.

Best advice I got -- stop trying to figure it out. Stop trying to beg God or work for Him. Stop trying to get Him to prove Himself to You. Stop listening to people -- Christian or ex-Christian. Put it all away -- the memories, the yearnings for having it again, the preaching of leaders you've had, the Bible verses you've memorized -- let go of all of it.

Put it away -- go away from it all for a good long while. It'll be hard -- but lay it down.

Why? Because God gave us free will. And as long as we keep striving and carrying on and listening to everyone else -- we don't hear Him.

He could shout at us over everyone else. But are we really listening? Do we stop listening to others and stop trying to figure it out ourselves?

You have nothing to lose by letting it go -- focus on something else -- and wait and see. If God is real, He'll still be there.

For most of us there are a thousand internal and external thoughts and voices and sounds to focus on at any given day. And so much advice, so much religion.

But the God-sized hole people talk about, the yearning people have for friendship and community and even for a perfect world -- religion won't fill it any more than imperfect and flakey people can. And we're all flakes.

God can-- but we gotta stop filling it ourselves.

It's worth a try---

I'm sorry you had such awful church experiences. Crap like that hurts. And it's okay for everyone -- Christian or not -- to question and doubt sometimes. You don't want to have faith based on other's opinions or have it forced on you. What kind of faith or relationship is that?

But if you want to know if there is a God -- get quiet and wait - it can't hurt.

Love you

.:webmaster:. said...

"God is so big we can't comprehend Him."

If we can't comprehend this god, then what are we talking about?

Just put your mind on hold...do what you're told...and open a new K - J - V."

Tissues available at the end of every pew.

Barbara said...

I like your rhyme -- been to a few of those places -- but like I said -- we need to question and think for ourselves when it comes to faith -- we should never put our minds on hold and blindly believe anyone

But about the comprehend stuff--

If there is a God
And He created everything--

Okay -- maybe YOU'RE that smart

But already I cannot comprehend the intelligence or power involved in that -- I couldn't do it!

And if there is a GOD

And He knows all and sees all

My puny mind can't totally grasp that

I'd be lying to say I could--

A Great Big Spiritual Thing Who Knows All and Is All and Made ALL --

Throw in some Power and Might--

If God is real -- how do we wrap our minds around that?

Personally -- I have no problem with God being smarter and bigger and greater and more powerful than me even if I can't fully understand Him

Cuz if we have a wimp for a God -- A puny God that is less than us or dumber than us or weaker than us -- God help us!

That's what I meant

tigg13 said...

Ok Barbara, if god is too complex for anyone to able to comprehend, and he would obviuosly know that we can't comprehend him, then why would he make having faith in his existance a prerequisite for eternal salvation? How is it just to expect anybody to believe in something that they can't understand?

pamjane said...

barbara,
thanks for what you've written. that is very, very encouraging.
pam

Anonymous said...

Santa Claus does exist. He lived a few centuries ago in Russia. Namely, St. Nicholas.
Look him up online. Cool bio.
Its just that Coca-Cola hijacked this wonderful Eastern Christian saint along with Jack O'Lantern and the Easter Bunny. Corporatism will do that.
Try and look into the Eastern Christian Church. Its been there since the beginning and never needed a Protestant Reformation. You have nothing to lose anyway.

Shannon said...

Sure, St. Nicholas is a historical character. But no one was talking about St. Nicholas, the historical. Santy Claus is purely fictional…you know the chubby dude, red suit, North Pole, elves, reindeers, and chimneys? Once you understand that there cannot a be fellow who spends his spring plucking off hungry polar bear from gobbling down his hoofed aero planes, you can never go back to believing in him again.

And you can apply the same understanding of the mythical Santy Claus to other mythical, seemingly historical characters, too.

.:webmaster:. said...

And God said: "Let us go down and make man in our image. We will give him a mind so he can figure things out. We will make him analytical, logical, and give him great capacity for invention. He will learn to trust his ability to think and reason.

Then, for fun, we will require him to puzzle out and find the correct version of the true religion, but we will make that religion illogical, incomprehensible, and odd. It will require him to ignore his mind and stop reasoning and acquire something we will call faith. No one will know exactly what faith is, but everyone will be required to have it. Those who fail to find the correct version of the true religion through faith will be tortured in horrific agony for all eternity."

You're right Barbara, no one could possibly comprehend a god that like.

Barbara said...

Who said God created religion?
God created us, sure, but I think people created religion. In our image of whatever suits us, lets us control things and people, have our niche in the world, feel better-- whatever-- we can really confuse things, after all. God is not an author of confusion -- we are. Take away the religion and you still have God.

We are intelligent and savvy and creative. But that doesn't mean everything we do with our minds is useful or good or unselfish. Or what God desires. Religion can sometimes be good for us and cause us to do good for others -- or it can be the opposite and cause hurt and confusion.

Puts a different spin on things, anyway.

.:webmaster:. said...

No Barb, gods created religion:

James 1:27—Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Barbara said...

Ah -- pure and undefiled religion -- yes -- you're right -- that would be God lead ...

But my automatic skeptical brain was thinking of the word "religion" in a broader sense -- not all religion is pure or Godly or undefiled or even good -- and when it is created by man, as it often is, it is not necessarily pure and undefiled.

Jesus himself spent a great deal of time preaching to the "religious leaders" of His day about this -- that it wasn't about their religious law -- or their hypocritical interpretations and actions resulting from it -- but about loving God and loving others. You can follow a religion zealously, but never love anyone. Religions, even Christian ones, that revolve around man made rules (i.e. don't dance and don't listen to secular music and don't be anything but joyful...) and condemnation and guilt and shame and performance and outward signs and tongues and money and buildings and worship styles ... etc... aren't pure and undefiled are they? They focus more on man and not on God .... And they force us to be hypocrites because we can't follow all those rules and be so perfect or even have all those outward manifestations "dude" was so pressured into thinking he had to have.

Anonymous said...

tigg13 said...
In other words, keep your eyes closed, your ears shut and ignore that painful emptiness you feel inside while the church blithly drains you of everything you are.

Why should the church drain you of everything you are ? It's between you and God. God's ways are NOT man's way . God's ways are Higher than our ways. Until you come to that realisation you cannot really understand why God does things the way He does.

tigg13 said...
Its like being in an abusive relationship; you keep getting kicked and smacked around and taken for granted, but you're always expected to keep coming back for more. Life is too short to waste it on a pointless (and expensive) fantasy that only leaves you feeling lost and despondant. You've got to put your faith in yourself - trust yourself and try to find what makes you happy

I would rather be happy to come to God each time as we are at His mercy anyway. What gain is to me to offend Him and go against Him when I am just a mortal being ? He is immortal, invisible, who knows the end from the beginnning...we dont even know what is going to happen to us next day or the next hour.....the safest place to be is in a broken and contrite spirit before God almighty.

tigg13 said...

Anonymous said "Why should the church drain you of everything you are ? It's between you and God. God's ways are NOT man's way . God's ways are Higher than our ways. Until you come to that realisation you cannot really understand why God does things the way He does."
So until I understand that I can't understand god's ways I won't really understand why god does the things he does? Do you understand god's ways? Do you even have a clue as to what your trying to say. If we CAN'T know gods ways, it does not make sense for god to punish us for not being able to know his ways.
And as far as it being between me and god, so far its just been me. No god. Not a word. Not a postcard. Nothing.
All I've ever heard from are the many and various churches that have all told me that its always been my fault. I either wasn't praying often enough, or I lacked faith, or needed to give up something (like money). This, according to them, was what god wanted. Now I know that they didn't know anymore than you or I about what god wants.
Anonymous said "I would rather be happy to come to God each time as we are at His mercy anyway. What gain is to me to offend Him and go against Him when I am just a mortal being ? He is immortal, invisible, who knows the end from the beginnning...we dont even know what is going to happen to us next day or the next hour.....the safest place to be is in a broken and contrite spirit before God almighty."
So you see yourself at gods mercy, broken and contrite, and, obviously in awe of his power and knowledge. Tell me, what is left of you that your god hasn't drained away?
I see no virtue in fear. I see no sense in fearing what isn't real. And if, by chance, I'm wrong and your god ir real, I see no wisdom in fearing that which is supposed to love me.

.:webmaster:. said...

Barb, you said: "Who said God created religion?"

My answer was to that question. I said gods created religion, but really I admit, people created every religion. My point was to show you that Christianity is a religion, nothing more. Whether it's a good, bad, or just stupid religion can be discussed, but it's a religion none-the-less.

That's the totality of my point.

.:webmaster:. said...

"You can't understand God, His ways are not our ways, He is a spirit and our minds can't wrap around that."—yada, yada, yada.

Okay, so then why are we bothering with this discussion? If none of us can understand what the hell we are talking about, then we may as well just sit down and play patty-cake like infants.

If God is unimaginably incomprehensible (please keep in mind that as far as I'm concerned, reality is: gods are pretend), then there is nothing to discuss, because none of us can imagine or comprehend the topic.

So, since the topic is over everyone's head, you have CHOSEN to believe in this incomprehensible...uhm...ah...I just can't imagine what to call it, maybe a "construct" because you...ah...well, I can't imagine why you would choose to do that.

I choose to be skeptical of the existence of any invisible, undetectable, incomprehensible, unimaginable something that supposedly requires my complete, surrendered subservience.

Hallowed are the ORI

Anonymous said...

I understand your questions and despair. But I believe there is a mixup in the use and definiation of the words "Christianity" and "religion". One can have Christianity with or without religion. One can have religion without Christianity.

Too many times it's the religious persons who give Christianity a bad rap.

You say you doubt Christianity (which is defined a believing that Christ is Saviour) but believe in God. What you are really doubting is organized religion.

Remember that people in leadership positions within churches are human. They are vulnerable to the same doubts and sins a the average person in the congregation. Peter is a prime example of a vasilating believer. And that is a source of comfort - we all fail, but we are still forgiven and accepted by God.

I have found that when I look at church leaders as human and faliable, just as I am, I can forgive them. It is not for me or anyone else to sit in judgement of others. It's all I can do to manage myself.

Maybe looking that your situation from that perspective will help.

Try reading Philip Yancy's "Disappointment with God" or "Where is God When it Hurts" or "Reaching for the Invisible God".

Anonymous said...

We need not understand everything that happens to believe in God. God is real no matter what men may say. Bible says, "The fool has said in His heart that there is no God."
The only way to understand God is FAITH which is a gift from God himself. The bible says "Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith". We are saved only by Grace and not by our works...so only thing that can be done still is to depend on Him to review you/me in the midst of the year..if our love for God has grown cold....Lord renew me...

boomSLANG said...

Anony-fundy said: "God is real no matter what men say."

God is not real, no matter what men read.

tigg13 said...

Anonymous said "The only way to understand God is FAITH which is a gift from God himself."

So, if you don't faith, how do you know what it is you're to have faith in? How do you know whether or not what you have faith in is really god? "Understanding through faith" is just another way of saying "enbracing ignorance". You don't really understand anything, you just accept that what you believe is the truth and close your mind to any other possibilities.

Melissa said...

Re-li-gion:

Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

The life or condition of a person in a religious order.

A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Idiom:
get religion
To become religious or devout.
To resolve to end one's immoral behavior. :dictionary.com

It cracks me up when people try to seperate being a christian from being religious. It means the same exact thing! Period.

Say your spiritual or something else, but when a christian, muslim, jewish, hindu, person says "I am not religious"...they might as well be calling themselves an atheist.

If the "religious" are thought to be corrupt, then one would have to conclude that it is their religious beliefs that have corrupted them.

Paul said...

For me, it was like I had walked a tightrope all my life beliving that there was a net, and discovering one day that there was no net and never had been.

Eventually I worked out that most people make their way through life one way or another, and that the "tightrope" analogy was taking it all a bit to far.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read the book of Job? Job was a righteous man, a true man of God. Yet he was given all the troubles and despair that a man can receive! He questioned God and God replied by asking him if he was there when God created everything, when God carefully created every living thing. He says to Job that once Job understands all these things that then he can rightly question God. The thing is, is that we WEREN'T there. We DON'T understand why God does the things He does. Christianity is about having faith and leaning on God even when the going gets tough. He tests all of us. The rain pours down on both the righteous and the un-righteous. Speaking in tongues is just one gift of the Holy Spirit, there are many other gifts. God has given YOU the gifts that other people need to grow, and the people AROUND you the gifts you need to grow. Not everyone who calls themself a Christian truly seeks to follow Christ. But that's something you have to accept. This is obviously a testing time, but in testing times we are meant to seek God out and lean on Him, because that's what he wants from us. He wants us to lean unashamedly on Him and His grace. We don't understand why He does what He does, but we do know that He created this world and that we just have to learn to trust Him.
God is like the wind, we can't see Him but we know He is there.

boomSLANG said...

Congratulations Anonymous 8:26, you have just rattled off about every pop'-Christian soundbite out there, and all in one post. You even managed to sneak in some Job parables from your subjective bible buffet. Unfortunately for you, though, this tripe you're servin' up holds zero value here.

Also, your "God is like the wind" analogy fails miserably, as well. We can harness the wind; we can measure the wind; we tell if the wind is present, or not present.

A better analogy would be: the invisible; immeasurable; unfalsifiable god....and the non-existant god, look a lot alike.

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