October 24, 2017

Another One Gets Off the Evangelical Bus: Thoughts on A De-Conversion

signBeAttitude gives his reasons for Why He Walked Away From Christianity. Don’t skip this. Read it carefully and don’t start talking. Just listen.

1. I always want to commend anyone who moves to a position of authenticity for themselves. If you don’t believe the claims of your own Christian community, then by all means please move to a position where you are able to say “This is what I do believe.” What you don’t believe is a step along the way. We’ve got thousands of Christians who are actually unbelievers, agnostics and atheists. We’d all be better off to ring a bell and go to our real position. Even if it makes mom and dad cry, which it will.

2. The hand of the new atheists is heavily apparent here. If you don’t believe their assault on the Christian faith and religion in general are making an impact, you’re out to lunch. Their arguments may be weak and answerable, but they are persuasive to millions of ordinary people. Most Christians won’t be professional apologists and they aren’t coming to your seminar or class. For many people, a Chris Hitchens or a Sam Harris are devastatingly confident voices of self-proclaimed reason. Investigation may prove otherwise, but that’s hardly well-publicized or well communicated.

3. The hand of shallow evangelical thinking is just as apparent. Does this read like Bart Ehrman’s discovery that inerrancy wasn’t true? Yes, and I say where are the evangelicals with the courage- and that’s what it will take- to say that simplistic inerrancy isn’t the default Christian position? Where is the awareness that the vast majority of the Christian world isn’t playing by the rules of a minority segment of evangelicalism determined to make their ideas of inerrancy the definition of Christianity. Read the Catholic Catechism on the inspiration of scripture, for goodness sake. Find out why you don’t have to have your faith detonated like Ehrman did, by a bomb that was defused long, long ago.

4. Once the content of the Old Testament is out there folks. you better have some answers and some honesty. Here’s a violent, bloody book of sacrifice and war, much of it endorsed by God. Books like Christopher Wright’s The God I Don’t Understand aren’t going to sell many copies among today’s Christians, so very few Christian young people will ever hear someone really wrestling with these questions. It’s not an easy problem, and anyone who concludes that atheism is more moral than a God who orders up violence and destruction shouldn’t be ridiculed. But as Razi Zacharias has pointed out over and over, atheists like BeAttitude are engaging in a moral argument that atheism itself undercuts. The believer in God has a problem with what God does. The atheist has a problem with the fact he/she has a problem. So after we’ve all vented, we actually come back to a common problem: can we trust our own moral instincts completely to give us all of the truth?

5. BeAttitude has discovered that Christianity- and theism in general- is extremely unlikely. The problem with so many preachers and teachers is they speak constantly as if Christianity is so obvious, so apparent, so easy, so plain, so likely to be true that only morons are unbelievers. Wrong. I once had a preacher at our ministry who would say you were stupid to not believe in God or the Bible. Now the Bible says the fool says in his heart that there is no God, and I believe that….from inside the faith. But from outside of it, it’s very unlikely that miracles happen, that dead men rise, that God speaks, etc. It’s totally unlikely. But as C.S. Lewis says, so are noses. So is everything else. You have to move past that, and if you have been in an environment where all of your questions were placed in the category of “what stupid, foolish and unbelieving people say,” then you kept quiet, and now, like BeAttitude, the whole business seems completely outrageous. Well…it is. And the Psalms bear witness to that as does the rest of scripture. You have to be in that place a bit and to consider that the biggest claim Christianity makes isn’t that God parted the Red Sea, but that there is a reason there is something rather than nothing.

6. BeAttitude is now free to say that Christians have terrible flaws and have done terrible things. What does that tell you about the kind of Christianity we’ve fostered? That’s right….we blame our critics. We deny our history. We explain away our bloody and oppressive actions. We act as if being a Christian- on the large and small stages- must entail a loyalty oath to defend the indefensible. This is, of course, bizarrely ironic given the fact that we are the one religion that openly proclaims we are so bad we can’t do anything to help ourselves.

7. The doctrine of hell needs a lot of work in how we present it. (See C.S. Lewis for details.) Again, bad evangelicalism rings through statements about 70% of the world going to hell for refusing to believe Jesus is God. There’s a big conversation on hell that gets silenced whenever it breaks out. The doctrine of hell becomes a pragmatic flag that has to be waved to create the requisite conditions for aisle-walking evangelism. I have to answer this objection every week. I always say the same thing: Christianity doesn’t empower Christians to tell others who is going to hell. It reveals who God is and who we are. It gives us the Gospel. It asks us the question: How are your sins forgiven? It doesn’t put you or me in the place of God in what we know about anyone. It addresses you. Not groups. Not bumper sticker theology. Your real life in relation to a particular God and what he has revealed. But BeAttitude has walked into the dilemma that Jesus is the one who delivers the Christian doctrine of hell most plainly. If you judge that Jesus isn’t to be believed on those matters, then there is NO argument about theology and NO apologetic that’s going to repair that problem.

8. Which reminds me that BeAttitude has very little to say about Jesus aside from 1) he didn’t do everything I think he should do and 2) the Gospels may be a different kind of literature than I was told. I always note that Jesus seldom leads the reasons people abandon the faith. Not faulting BeAttitude at all. I just would say Jesus is the “heaviest” factor in any consideration of Christianity. Not a minor matter. If he’s the clue from God to all these questions humans have, then he changes everything.

9. I am a Christian because I was born into that culture and family? No, as true as that is, I am a Christian because I remain one, despite the strong arguments against Christianity provided by being in a Christian family and culture.

10. Let me repeat myself. So much of what you will read here is the price tag of the typical evangelical view of the Bible as inerrant, without significant issues, never raising moral questions, always explainable, etc. If it were not for Jesus, passages like Genesis 22 would put me right where BeAttitude is now. His objections are significant and important. There is an entire discussion and level of understanding Christianity that BeAttitude hasn’t been introduced to within an increasingly shallow and doctrinally compromised evangelicalism.

Comments

  1. A note of clarification regarding my fellow North Carolinian, Bart Ehrman. It wasn’t his discovery that the inerrancy of Scripture was not true that “detonated” his faith. Rather, his inability to reconcile a loving, all-powerful God with a world of suffering. See his most recent book for his thoughts on the possibility of faith without inerrant Scriptures…well worth reading!

  2. Robert Van de Water says:

    iMonk,

    The primary problem is that human pride makes us incapable of admitting when we don’t know the answer to a given question. Because we cannot stand unanswered questions, we seize on the best available answer and insist that it is satisfactory, no matter how poor it may be. We then use peer pressure tactics to enforce this view as “known truth” and close our minds to discussion. No greater example of this can exist then the insistence on the 24 hour yowm in Genesis.

    As Christians, I think we make 3 fundamental mistakes that make our faith ridiculous:

    1. We assume that Moses and the Old Testament prophets were perfect men who revealed God perfectly like Jesus Christ. (In contrast, I believe that Moses commits two of the greatest sins in human history in Exodus 33.)

    2. We assume that morals are relative. Any act performed by God is okay because “might makes right”. (In contrast, I believe that the love of 1 Corinthians 13 is the basis of morality and that God cannot perform certain actions because of his loving nature.)

    3. We assume that hell is absolute. God actively punishes those who do not believe in him forever. (In contrast, I believe that God is warning us of the consequences of making decisions for ourselves by rejecting his offer of the grace, forgiveness and guidance of Jesus Christ. What would it be like to live forever among those who do not believe they require the forgiveness and grace of God? Reject Jesus Christ and you will find out that it is not as much fun as you might think.)

    It is very frustrating for me to watch people peddle entirely inadequate defenses of these basic problems as “Christian truth”. We need to admit our ignorance and question our basic beliefs. Aside from the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and a small set of attendant beliefs, everything should be on the table and no question should be ridiculed.

    robert van de water

  3. I found Christ when I had a need for Him in my life. After the need to fill the void was filled, a new need emerged. Understanding. Understanding of what had happened to me, and of how I needed to relate to it.

    I found that the vehicle for this understanding came in studying human nature. If human nature is really good, then its just limited by external forces thru oppression, and salvation comes from the outside thru eliminating that oppression created by others.

    But if human nature is fallen, then the evil exists in everyone, therefore everyone has a personal accountability for it, and some kind of salvation is needed inside on a personal level for it.

    When I looked at the world for examples of the above, the two pre-eminate figures were, of course, Christ on the one hand. And then Karl Marx on the other. Hitchens, by the way, comes from an unashamed Communist background, as the followers of Marx see that as the only real salvation of the world. Talk to any atheist and it will be the same, as this becomes their only hope.

    It was then that the Bible truly started to make sense to me, as this is pretty much what the message of it is all about. Its a binary thing, and it all works according to the one way or the other. Those attempting to straddle these ideas will find nothing by conflict.

    So to me, learning about this ‘contrast’ and explaining it to others is how I approach pretty much everything. Understanding man has a fallen nature can’t help but lead one to Christ, so that is what I hammer on in all my endevours. God’s Word will always shine a huge spotlight on that theme.

  4. great post. thought provoking and humbling. i appreciate it.

    i have a sister who recently “de-converted” after a long series of events. she spent time listening to WOTM Radio (Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and Todd Friel) and they told her that if she didn’t look like the picture painted in the book of James, then she could NOT be a Christian…and she started to believe them.

    ultimately, she’s been reading Hitchens and Dawkins (and every other anti-theist she can find), and she finds their “logic” compelling. she is not willing to call herself “athiest” yet, but is now “agnostic” at best.

    the failure of Christianity, in my opinion, is our rigidity. “we are right, and the detractors be damned (literally).” we’ve forgotten that the heros of our faith were flawwed and fallible. we neglect that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon were failures and sinners…who were used by God in spite of their frailty. we like to paint a picture of what we think we should be, then try to live up to that false ideal.

    God expects us to be real. He expects us to be honest. He expects us to say “i don’t know” when that’s the best answer we have. instead, we try to put on a good show…impress others with our righteousness…and play games. we throw around words like “inerrant”, “Calvinist”, “Arminian”, “sinner”,”salvation”, and “hell”…not understanding what we’re talking about. we’ve put God in a box and are determined to define Him, whom we cannot understand. we place on the Infinite, characteristics that we (the finite) can grasp, rather than accept that we cannot comprehend Him. we drive people away as a result.

  5. Not always good at the putting-word-together-thing, but here goes…

    There are always those atheists who, like BeAttitude, claim the repugnance of God’s actions as the reason for their departure from faith. However, I also see some who, like myself, consider the evidence for each of the two (?) options, God or No-God, and find the later the only “likely” alternative.

    Michael argues that this is a decision of the “heart.” I don’t buy it unless that is to say it is an emotional decision. Even then emotional decisions are simply made in a different part of the brain and equally subject to our perceptions.

    We all make choices based on what we conceive as True, our model of the world and how it works. Do Christians really make a commitment to faith based on no reasoning at all? I find that hard to believe. If I grant that there is a mystical/magical way of converting then I also have to accept so much philosophical baggage that I might as well write my tithe check now (wrote it last week, actually):) If I open myself to such a faith-based concept, I have little reason to resist theism if not out-and-out Christianity.

    I could argue that there are Christians who profess based on emotional needs, etc, but most will cite an external reason for their belief. The most common that I encounter is the Existence of the Universe. This one is debatable to me but it is common and natural. The “reason” that I have come to accept as the “best” for belief is Personal Experience – ie John Wesley felt his heart “strangely warmed”. I might argue that the mind is a tricksy beast but to the person who experiences it, it is a valid point of data to consider when building a model of reality. That said, I don’t consider it good evidence for the purpose of converting others to you viewpoint. They can’t share the persons “evidence” in any meaningful way.

    So, although Old Testament morals may inform my decision, Christians have behaved about as poorly as every one else. George Barna’s polls and my own observations at the church I attend as well as in the community at large tell me that Christian behavior is essentially the same as that of everyone else. Indeed, it is primarily the structure and (in)coherence of scripture along with the tension between the claims of the Bible/Christianity and the reality of the world as I experience it that convince me that the likelihood of the existence of the Christian God is not great enough to entertain seriously.

    Note on apologists: The work McDowell and Strobel are considered sad jokes among atheists, for the reasons at least one commenter pointed out, above. Personally, I find it baffling that so many consider C.S. Lewis a serious Christian thinker. But then again, people eat up Strobel’s books, too.

    Note on the source of morals: Shared evolutionary and biological history offer enough of a counter-explanation for whatever common moral ground you can find among modern and historical cultures as to erase the slamdunkness of the God-must-tell-you-what-good-is argument at a minimum.

    Note on debates: Debates may inform an audience (rarely) but do NOTHING to establish truth. Some are more skilled at the technicalities of debate irrespective of the truth value of their positions.

    Finally: Christopher Hitchen’s and Richard Dawkins’ atheist works are shrill and not very compelling.

  6. Robert Van de Water says:

    Scott,

    I just had a couple of questions after reading your post.

    “Indeed, it is primarily the structure and (in)coherence of scripture along with the tension between the claims of the Bible/Christianity and the reality of the world as I experience it that convince me that the likelihood of the existence of the Christian God is not great enough to entertain seriously.”

    How does the “structure” of the Bible make the “existence of the Christian God” unlikely?

    What truth claims does the Bible/Christianity make that conflict with the reality of the world as you experience it?

    “I find it baffling that so many consider C.S. Lewis a serious Christian thinker.”

    What are the requirements for being a “serious” Christian thinker and how does C.S. Lewis fail to meet them?

    I ask these questions so that I might better understand your thinking. If I am able, I might even take a stab at answering some of them.

    Thanks,

    robert van de water

  7. I can relate to BeAttitude’s story because it is very similar to my own.

    His list has many items that I can fully appreciate and wrestled with myself.

    Unlike the many who never consider intellectual issues, I was very interested in apologetics and counter cult efforts but the more I looked at the issues, the less convinced I was that Christianity was true.

    Though it was not necessarily the foremost reason, inerrency was among the top problems I wrestled with as I was trying to hold on to my faith.

    Perhaps it was the constant reminders that “if you couldn’t trust all the Bible you can’t trust any of it” that led to my inability to have confidence in a collection of writings that had errors, alterations, contradictions, and absurdities in it.

    The conflict between creationism vs evolution and a literal global flood was a constant wedge between faith and reason and there seemed no way to reconcile them without becoming a “liberal” Christian and that was often described by my pastors as on the same level as atheism. The doctrine of eternal torment and the billions who live and died without any gospel was another sore spot that I couldn’t heal.

    It is usually common when I discuss my departure from the faith that someone will try and pin it on some desire to live an immoral life or wanting to be my own “god”, but I left Christianity kicking and screaming. I just couldn’t remain honest with myself and continue to go through the motions when things fell apart.

    I suppose you could consider me a causality of literal fundamentalism and a skeptical disposition.

    Thinking back, I don’t know what anyone could have done or said to prevent my departure, though I did feel those I confided in felt threatened by my doubts and sort of kept their distance.

    To this day, almost 8 years later, believing family members, coworkers, and acquaintances who know I don’t go to church any more never mention it.

  8. Jelmer de Jong says:

    You write, “Yes, and I say where are the evangelicals with the courage- and that’s what it will take- to say that simplistic inerrancy isn’t the default Christian position?”

    At the moment I am writing my master’s thesis at the Free University in Amsterdam about the discussion among evangelicals (in the broad sense) about the authority of scripture, focusing on claims of inerrancy. Included is a short research on the early church fathers all the way up to the reformation and later, about what their respective positions were. It reveals all kinds of things, as you can imagine.

    I agree with your statement and am somewhat afraid of the outcomes of my thesis.. 🙂

  9. Robert Van de Water says:

    Brian,

    When I was a younger Christian, I was extremely ignorant. Unfortunately, I made up for my ignorance with volume and bellicosity because I was threatened by rational arguments against the faith. I have since come to believe this behavior was shameful and disgraceful. This being the case, I can simultaneously sympathize with your intellectual issues and also sympathize with other Christians who have failed to deal well with these issues.

    I have found that the key to dealing with these issues for me is to be comfortable with my need of Jesus Christ. I simply cannot stand the idea of being the money-grubbing, materialistic, lustful, self-centered, proud, insensitive and egotistical man that I was without Jesus Christ. The loving, kind, selfless, forgiving person that I want to be can only conceivably be accomplished with lavish divine assistance and Jesus Christ is the only source of such assistance on the market. Basing my faith on my need of Jesus Christ in this way, I am not threatened by intellectual questions regarding the faith and can approach them in a calm and reasonable state of mind.

    Having thus considered the intellectual problems of the faith, I have found it necessary to reject much of conventional Christian theology. While the basic beliefs encapsulated in the various creeds are reasonable, much of the other attendant beliefs must be rejected as nonsensical. The Old Testament stories of wrath and judgment, for example, can be viewed as basically historically accurate but badly misinterpreted by theologians with little understanding of God or His plan. Likewise the doctrine of hell can be understood if the traditional notions of literal flames and pitchfork wielding demons in red spandex jumpsuits are rejected. While I have explored these issues at book-length elsewhere, allow me to explain briefly my views about hell.

    Let us imagine that God was trying to create an eternal paradise for human beings. How would He go about this task? Does paradise merely require certain materialistic comforts? Or does paradise require something of the human beings that inhabit it?

    My belief is that paradise requires human beings to be humble and amenable to divine correction. If human beings refuse divine guidance and correction, then paradise would gradually breakdown as individuals accumulated petty grievances against one another and refused to forgive one another or acknowledge guilt for their own infractions. Paradise is only possible if human beings “turn the other cheek” and “love their neighbor” as themselves by acknowledging their own infractions and forgiving the infractions of others.

    What would eternal life be like if a group of people made a habit of refusing divine correction and did not forgive one another or “love their neighbors” in the manner specified by God? Over eternal time, people would gradually harden their hearts against one another and trust would breakdown. Eternal loneliness is the unavoidable longterm consequence of these kinds of decisions.

    Now sometimes “loving our neighbors” requires us to do things that we don’t want to do. “Who cares about that loser who will get his feelings hurt if I have sex outside of marriage with this beautiful young woman? I want it, she wants it and nothing else matters.” Though these kinds of attitudes may seem harmless over the short term of a seventy year lifespan, over the course of an eternal life they will eventually result in the hell of loneliness described above. (These consequences can sometimes even be visible within the context of our brief seventy year lifespans!) Is it any wonder that God, who loves every single individual more than we can imagine, describes such a fate in the starkest possible terms?

    This has been a long post and still does not do justice to the questions you have asked. I wish you the best as you continue to journey in search of truth.

    robert van de water

  10. Brian R says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply Robert.

    I thought I might bounce a few things off a couple things you wrote.

    “The Old Testament stories of wrath and judgment, for example, can be viewed as basically historically accurate but badly misinterpreted by theologians with little understanding of God or His plan. Likewise the doctrine of hell can be understood if the traditional notions of literal flames and pitchfork wielding demons in red spandex jumpsuits are rejected.”

    I suppose I just don’t have the ability to label the behavior of Yahweh in the OT as anything other than barbaric. We can speculate about “higher purposes” and “mysterious ways”, but honestly, an all powerful and loving deity could certainly find methods that don’t involve genocide, infanticide, slavery, and plundering neighboring nationalities over a chunk of real estate.

    “What would eternal life be like if a group of people made a habit of refusing divine correction and did not forgive one another or “love their neighbors” in the manner specified by God? Over eternal time, people would gradually harden their hearts against one another and trust would breakdown. Eternal loneliness is the unavoidable longterm consequence of these kinds of decisions.”

    An all powerful being can’t be limited to just two options to accomplish its will.

    Hell is not necessitated because heaven exists. Annihilation is a merciful option. Only allowing those who would accept Him to come into existence is possible. I’m sure you have considered these but they are incompatible with the writings that are allegedly inspired and explain Yahweh’s will.

    “Having thus considered the intellectual problems of the faith, I have found it necessary to reject much of conventional Christian theology.”

    I suppose one can take that road, but it seems just as sensible to me to set it all aside and live by the golden rule which seems at the root of most spirituality anyway.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the matter. I remain open to the possibility of a spiritual order, but every faith I have examined looks like the work of fallible human minds.

    Thanks.

  11. Robert Van de Water says:

    Brian,

    Thanks to you as well for your thoughts Brian. Allow me to respond if I might.

    “I suppose I just don’t have the ability to label the behavior of Yahweh in the OT as anything other than barbaric. We can speculate about “higher purposes” and “mysterious ways”, but honestly, an all powerful and loving deity could certainly find methods that don’t involve genocide, infanticide, slavery, and plundering neighboring nationalities over a chunk of real estate.”

    But what if the point was not finding His people a chunk of real estate but of teaching them their need for grace, forgiveness and love? I certainly agree that the behavior of the Old Testament barbarians in the Old Testament was barbaric, but are we so sure that it was according to God’s will? Allow me to bounce some ideas off of you.

    It is my view that the closest analog we have to the culture and outlook of the Old Testament nation of Israel in the modern world is Osama Bin Laden, Al Queda, the Taliban and other Muslim extremist groups. I believe that the ancient Israelites shared the same self-righteousness, the same clan loyalty, the same brutality and vicious outlook as these modern terrorist groups.

    I further believe that the modern nation of Israel is the most secular, thoughtful, liberal, accomplished in every field of human endeavor nation in the world today. (Just look at their disproportionate share of Nobel Prizes.) How do you transform a barbaric, self-righteous and willfully ignorant people into the most civilized nation in the world? I believe the Old Testament is the highly counter-intuitive answer to that question. You give them a minimal standard (the Mosaic law) that points them in the direction of the Law of Love (“Love the Lord thy God and Love thy neighbor”) and watch as they struggle to realize that they need the grace and forgiveness of God just as much as the gentile “sinner” nations around them.

    “An all powerful being can’t be limited to just two options to accomplish its will.

    Hell is not necessitated because heaven exists. Annihilation is a merciful option. Only allowing those who would accept Him to come into existence is possible. I’m sure you have considered these but they are incompatible with the writings that are allegedly inspired and explain Yahweh’s will.”

    The view of hell that I spelled out in my earlier post was somewhat simplified due to spatial constraints. I believe that there is a third option, for those who will accept it, where they have an existence that is much better than any existence that you could have on Earth. In the Bible I believe these two different options are spelled out clearly. In Revelation, some people are cast into the “Lake of Fire” and some people are said to live “oustide the city”. In my view, the “Lake of Fire” is where people go who choose not to be subject to God and his laws. The eternal torment that they experience there is not done by God but by the other people that are there (Imagine living on a resort island with Stalin, Hitler and Mao and other mass murderers for all eternity. No matter how pleasant the surroundings and amenities, the company will make you miserable.) Those who choose to live under God’s rule, however, are allowed to live “outside the city” where they have live a life of “lesser blessing” than those who have excepted God’s gift of eternal life.

    “I suppose one can take that road, but it seems just as sensible to me to set it all aside and live by the golden rule which seems at the root of most spirituality anyway.”

    “Setting it all aside” admits the whole thing to be false and I find it more reasonable/hopeful to believe that genuine and perfect love exists.

    robert van de water

  12. Brian R says:

    Robert,

    I don’t want to get on a point by point debate on this gentleman’s blog, so I will refrain from posing the reasons for my skepticism of your offered solutions to these problems I have with certain Christian issues.

    I am pretty sure if we knew each other in person we would find many interesting things to discuss, and I do appreciate you taking time to comment on my post. 🙂

  13. Thanks for this link and for the book recommend “the God I don’t Understand”.

    I’ve been talking to my pastor lately about some pretty basic stuff Jesus said (John 14:12 – 14″anyone who has faith… will do what what i have been doing…he will do even greater things than these… because i am going to the Father”)

    – and the thing is, i do have faith that there is a reason Jesus said what He did. But instead religious people just want me to pretend i don’t see it, too… To be really honest, i haven’t gone to church for a few weeks now. I don’t fit in. And it’s not that i don’t love Jesus. Not that i don’t read my Bible and pray and teach my children. I just don’t fit. I believe Jesus and Reason are compatible. And yeah, i do think Faith is the missing link – and i’m comfortable with a certain amount of chaos/unexplained missing links.

    I just don’t get the “pretend we don’t see it” posture. It seems so weak intellectually, and one more thing that pushes people away from a stagnant culture… which isn’t a bad thing. But if that stagnant culture holds a flag with Jesus’ face on it, it ends up pushing people away from Jesus…

  14. Robert Van de Water says:

    Brian,

    Some of the best fun I have had has been having my simplistic theistic arguments systematically destroyed over the years by one of the most thoughtful people I know (a Jewish atheist and a very good friend). If my current positions make any sense at all, then it is because I have constantly had to adapt them to his rigorous and scathing analysis. It has been a pleasure discussing these issues and I hope we can do it again some time.

    robert van de water

  15. Robert Van de Water says:

    Mamazee,

    I too had that problem with some of the sayings of Jesus and I would like to share my solution with you. You may not find it satisfactory, but it makes the most sense to me.

    There is a tendency for us believers to take the words that Jesus meant “spiritually” in a “literal” sense. When Jesus said “beware the leaven of the Pharisees”, for example, Peter and the Apostles immediately began to look for some bread that they could throw overboard when what Jesus actually meant was the “teaching” of the Pharisees. When Jesus said that we could move mountains through faith, maybe he was not talking about “literal” mountains? I am convinced that if we could see the “spiritual” world that is veiled from our eyes, then we would see that getting one person to profess a genuine faith in Jesus Christ required the removal of a “spiritual” mountain. In praying for a particular friend of mine, I once thought to myself, “There is no way that this person will ever become a Christian” only to be pleasantly surprised by the spiritual mountains moved by God.

    By the way, I want to congratulate you on the fact that you are comfortable with unanswered questions. When I consider many questions that people ask about God I often wonder, “Do you really think that if God himself came down and explained the answer to that question to you personally that you would be capable of understanding it?” To me, it is not obvious that the answer to this question is yes. (I guess this is because I have had quantum mechanics explained to me by people who knew what they were talking about and I didn’t understand a word of it.) For this reason, being comfortable with unanswered questions seems to be the only reasonable way to approach certain issues in our faith.

    robert van de water

  16. In respone to #9 in the above article — if this is his only link with God, that it was passed down, then I have to ask did he do anything to get to know God for himself? Or did he just continue throughout his 33 years of allegedly believing, just take everybody else’s word for who God was?

    (I find this the biggest problem in Christendom today — saints take someone else’s word for who and what God is — instead of getting into the Word and getting to know God for who He really is.)

    Relationship, as I know it, is always a two way street. You continue to seek the one you love, to grow in knowledge.

    We, as a Church, are wrong. We take for granted that because you came to Christ, that is it. We offer these classes and such every week, and if you don’t come — oh well.

    I have always thought discipleship was one on one. That is how I was discipled, by an old saint, and I try to give to others I encounter, what she gave to me.

    theBEattitude, my heart goes out to you, my prayers go up to God to bring someone in your life, who can live the reality of knowing the Godhead before you.

    And as part of the Body of Christ, I ask your forgiveness for having let you down.