What's your feeling about churches and Christianity? (1 Viewer)

vba_php

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If anyone responds to this, it might become a heated discussion, but let us keep it light and playful. I haven't been to my church in 6 years but I will probably go back soon as it's one of the very few churches I've been to that have open views regarding people from different backgrounds, exposures, religions and lifestyles. It is a church that follows scripture to the 'T' but at the same time is willing to discuss all sorts of different interpretations of the good book that have been well documented over the years. The only issue I have with the members of the church is that a lot of them are employed by the University's college and hospital in this town, and sometimes they have a tendency to come across to other people as being "more secure", and thus sometimes off-put people who have not been as fortunate in their lives. As a matter of fact, a good friend of mine that I lived with back in 2013 for a time, falls into this category but he's very good at showing his humility and compassion for other people that are not as fortunate as he is. He works for the veteran's hospital in town.

But ever since I was a little kid, I've noticed the rise of what seems to be the primary problem with people who call themselves "Christians". A lot, not all, seem to look down on other people who are non-believers or who have grown up in an atmosphere whereby they had no choice but to be exposed to other religions and cultures. The members of my church here don't do a lot of that, but none-the-less many of them still have a negative view of other people who are not "hard-core" Christians. That's exactly why I said, in NauticalGent's thread earlier today, that promoting the concept of "the good news" when talking to a non-believer, I believe would be pretty off-putting to them for a variety of reasons. I'm not a church missionary or preacher, but I will say I've had a great bout of success talking to non-believers when they are at the point of wanting to explore Christianity and what the life and death of Christ actually meant. Maybe I'm just good at being neutral and issuing compassion for others? My views have also been welcomed by many, for lack of a better word, "same-sex-oriented people" when discussing the issue of that type of immorality, and what Christ and his followers 2,000 years ago said about it. Regarding that issue specifically, the good book actually never fully defines "immorality" in that regard so I think a lot of the biblical researchers and religious leaders of the world have taken the scripture and produced a generally accepted "interpretation" as a baseline for their view on the issue.

I'm not signaling out anybody here, or saying that anyone in this list is good or bad/righteous or evil, but here are some of my choices for religious leaders that are preaching the wrong thing and taking people way off base:

  • Joel Osteen
  • Joyce Meyer
  • Peter Popoff
I am a big follower, and so are the leaders of my church, of these guys, who are preaching the right message (or were at one point, if they have since fallen into controversy):

  • John Piper
  • Matt Chandler
  • Rick Warren
  • Mark Driscoll
What are everybody else's thoughts on this whole thing?
 

The_Doc_Man

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As I have said before, the "Are you an atheist" thread has heavily explored a lot of topics. You might have wanted to peruse that thread before starting another round of religion vs. reality.

To me, the good news is simple: I have awakened to the realization that when I die, I will go to the same place that EVERYONE goes - nothingness. There is no judgment, no Heaven, no Hell. We come from nothing, we go to nothing. There is no pain in death. Might be pain in dying, but that is transitory.

Adam, go read in Ecclesiastes or in Psalms regarding the grave. The OT got it right. That "heaven, hell, and resurrection" stuff is an add-on because the stark reality of the finality of the grave was more than some folks could handle. The torment was added because the plain truth of the OT wasn't scaring people enough so the priests upped the ante to try the fear factor.

All that torment and brimstone and stuff? Stolen from Greek mythology regarding their region of Hell known as Tartarus. The actual name Hell? Taken from Norse mythology and the goddess Hela, who reigns over a region of the same name in a really cold corner of Frostheim.

Jesus? A retelling of the story of Horus (of Egypt), a myth from 1200 years earlier than the supposed life of Jesus. But that was in turn a retelling of a Sumerian myth of earlier ages.

The Great Flood? Never happened. Because if it had, the Australian, South American, and North American continents should have been devoid of animal life and people. But they weren't.

An all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful god figure who gives us free will but knows ahead of time what we will do, and then PUNISHES US ANYWAY, even though the game is rigged so that we can never find proof. (As revealed by "Only through faith shall you come to me.") In other words, a no-win scenario. If that is true then that god does not deserve worship.

You go on believing what you want to believe, Adam, but don't try to suck me into that vortex of guilt trips, fear-mongering, and thought-control through shame. We don't need it at all, thank you very much.

And don't come back on me about this, because you asked for our thoughts. There's an old rule: Don't ask questions if you don't want to hear all of the possible answers thereof. You have my answer.

I won't speak for others, but there are quite a few other veterans of this site who have also opened their eyes to the lies. I wish you no personal ill, but if you are disappointed in me, tough. I don't live up to the expectations of others. I have my own.
 

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You told me not to say anything as far as a retort on your words Richard, so I won't. But these words of yours:
To me, the good news is simple: I have awakened to the realization that when I die, I will go to the same place that EVERYONE goes - nothingness. There is no judgment, no Heaven, no Hell. We come from nothing, we go to nothing.
are kind of discouraging, don't you think? Would you not rather have a rewarding place to go to after your work on Earth is finished rather than just vanish into nothingness?

On a side note, I've noticed for quite a while now, every since the new-age movement of the advancement of technology and science, is that a lot of people are buying into the idea that we as a society have become so advanced and educated about everything that we have "reached the age of reason" and therefore we have no need for God because we've discovered everything possible to discover.

And working in this industry for 12 years now, I've also met many *many* engineers and other workers in technology that have left the churches and no longer are believers in God. I'm not quite sure how that all came about but it seems to be a continuing trend.

Sounds like you're pretty upset with me for posting this too Richard. Certainly didn't mean to do that. I can't help but think though, you may have had a bad experience with a "supposed" Christian at some point in your life? I see Tera also thanked you for your post. Perhaps he has also?
 
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June7

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Of course it would be nice to have a rewarding place to go if there were one. But wishing for something doesn't make it so.

Could eternal bliss get boring?
 

vba_php

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Could eternal bliss get boring?
That's an interesting question, June. But if Christ's words are true, then it means that the reward is to rejoin the Father and become part of the all encompassing love that built the Earth. Not to mention an opportunity to also become part of the largest phenomenon in existence: the all-encompassing-of-everything-and-all-knowing spirit of God.

I understand why people are leaving the faith though....especially with the large scale research that's being done in all professional disciplines in life. The large scale exploration of outer space is also probably causing people to doubt the existence of a God.
 

June7

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Ever read Clarke's Childhood's End (or watch the mini-series)? Or Stapledon's Star Maker or Last and First Men?

So I would no longer have an individual identity in the after life? No awareness of my past nor of anyone else in that altered state of existence? Then I really don't care one way or the other.
 
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deletedT

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I don't know if I can ask this question here or not. If not, I'll delete it.
First of all I'm Japanese and as you know we don't have any religion. It doesn't mean that I am an atheist. Because we don't say God doesn't exists. There may be one, may be none. We simply don't care if he exists or not. There's a difference.

Now my question:
Science has proved a lot of sections in Bible or other holy books is wrong. Or simply it's a story made to amuse people. For example the story of Adam and Eve and apple tree, or the 7 days of creation etc. Evaluation has been proved.
How christians, moslems, jews or other religion's follower still believe in their holy book? If a part is wrong, how could other sections, Hell or Heaven be true?
 

AccessBlaster

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I don't believe our consciousness goes to heaven or hell, rather it returns to the origin. The spirt isn't something you can kill. It continues to exist with or without its meat-suit. If I had to venture a guess the origin is somewhere near Orion’s Belt.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Would you not rather have a rewarding place to go to after your work on Earth is finished rather than just vanish into nothingness?

Wishing to win the lottery doesn't work very well either. But the odds of hitting the lottery, as bad as they are, are higher than the odds of this place of eternal reward having ANY semblance of reality.

you may have had a bad experience with a "supposed" Christian at some point in your life?

Nope. I started out as a Methodist, which is why I know what I do about the Bible. But when my mother took ill with Alzheimer's Disease, I started to read the Bible in hopes of finding answers, solace, hope, peace... anything except the living Hell of watching my mother go quietly in that dark night, unable to fight the descending spiral into a situation that I could not even imagine. And all I found in the Bible was words that rang empty and hollow. The more I looked for meaning, the less I found. Over a period of several months I finally realized what the Bible REALLY is.

The Bible is a set of stories by and about people who believed in God. The Bible reflects THEIR beliefs in God but is not a description of God. It is about what they imagined God to be. And in that context, it makes perfect sense, it makes historical sense. But it is all allegory and superstition with no body, no substance.

It is like Aesop's Fables or Grimm's Faerie Tales - stories that in their day were used to teach children about their culture. Stories to amaze, amuse, and admonish children while they were still young enough to be brainwashed. WHY do you suppose Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come to me." ?? Because he knew if you waited too long they would call you down for telling phony stories. They would grow up enough to smell the lie and stop believing you about anything.

The Bible is its own worst enemy because you can read it all you want and it will NEVER make sense as long as you try to take it literally. Yet that is exactly what it tells you that you must do.

The VITRIOLIC HATRED that is directed towards gays because of the Christian views on homosexuality make me very angry. You see, throughout my life I have known gay people. One of my best Tournament Bridge partners was gay. She and I used to do an OK offense and a knock-down-drag-out defense. A friend from work was also a member of one of my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. I have a gay step-daughter who has a lovely person as her wife. Over the years I have learned that gays want very nearly all of what we want: A good job, a nice place to live, a loving partner, a chance to enjoy life, a chance to be with friends, a chance to contribute to the community... I could go on but you get the point. You think I had a problem with some Christians? HELL NO, I have a problem with a LOT of Christians.

Now, before you decide I am an incurable lost cause, understand this as well. In the context that the Bible tries to teach values, I don't reject ALL of the values. Some of the commandments actually make a lot of sense. Not the ones about the sabbath and not the dedication to God. But the other rules are pretty good.

I learned a few good things as well with regard to stories of forgiveness. That's important, because the heaviest burden you can ever carry is a grudge. It eats at you until you dream bad dreams over it. You live for revenge that might never come, leaving you a tired and frustrated person.

The Serenity Prayer that I referenced earlier, in its original form, has some good ideas even though to me, God won't grant anything. But trying to learn to change when you can, accept what you can't change, and be wise enough to tell one from the other? Good advice with or without the supernatural bit about prayer.

Then there is something that was pointed out in the Gospels. I said that at least some of the 10 commandments made sense. Your own central figure pointed out that all of the commandments were derivable from two ideas. The "golden rule" exists in every major religion in some form or another. For atheists, my favorite variant is "Do no needless harm." But if you want to "love thy neighbor as thyself" then knock yourself out, bucko!

To finish this rant, I will point out that the lesson on forgiveness all too often does not work for Christians because they can't forgive gays for being different. "Gay" is NOT a choice. It is a condition that is already present at birth. You can't choose it, you can't cure it, and your only choices are to live a lie or be true to yourself. Christians say that being gay is a choice. Well, in a way they are right, but they ALWAYS name the wrong alternative choice. The choice is to be gay or be celibate. Just like others have the choice to be straight or be celibate. But there is NO case I have ever personally known where the choice was between gay and straight. You want to know what sours me on Christianity? Christians who don't even know how to forgive people for being imperfect.
 

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Separate post for a shorter message:

Sounds like you're pretty upset with me for posting this too Richard.

Not so. In fact, I rather expected it and can't even say I hate you for it. Because I don't. I am applying one of the lessons from the Bible regarding the sower of seeds in fields of various fertility. (Remember, I don't go for the supernatural stuff but the lessons aren't totally lost!)

I can no more curse you for doing what seems natural to you than I could curse the field that only grows 40 bushels of grain, even though one next to it produces 100 bushels. Each field is unique and grows what it can, as it can.
 

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DOC, I didn't understand your shorter message. Apparently my English is not good enough.
In case of your longer message, though I know and accept every single word you said is true, I didn't like the anger in your voice.
 

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I didn't like the anger in your voice.
the agitativeness was obvious from the first word of the first message I would say.
Science has proved a lot of sections in Bible or other holy books is wrong. Or simply it's a story made to amuse people. For example the story of Adam and Eve and apple tree, or the 7 days of creation etc. Evaluation has been proved.
How christians, moslems, jews or other religion's follower still believe in their holy book? If a part is wrong, how could other sections, Hell or Heaven be true?
actually Tera, I would argue that science has *not* proven that parts of the bible are not true, but rather has given insights into what the authors of the books of the bible actually meant by their words written in the various books. This is a *huge* problem in terms of justification and their relationship to people like yourself who say that science has proven God not to exist or be true.

The "story of creation" that you're talking about is one such point. There are literally hundreds of theories out there in the marketplace about how Christians are trying to bridge the gap between Moses' words in genesis regarding creation and what science has obviously proven to be true regarding the age of the earth, the stages it went through, and a lot of other "properties" it has had during its 4.5 billion year history of existence. The "bridge theory" that makes the most sense to me is called Day-age creationism, which is very closely related to Gap creationism. Those are just 2 of many theories that are in existence today. Some are extremely ridiculous in nature, others are more down-to-earth and realistic. But I think anyone can agree, in this day in age, that the creation of the Earth definitely did not take place over 7 24-hour Earth days, sun up/sun down.

As for the existence of heaven and hell and whether that is true, I don't believe there is material proof anywhere in the bible, as there shouldn't be anyway. My favorite spiritual stories in this world are those of people who experience NDE's (near-death experiences). I'm a firm believer in them and that what they experience, if they have done good works on Earth, is a taste of the heavily reward that awaits them when they leave this place. Most NDE experiences are reported to be associated with the *tasting* of heaven's offerings, however there *are* rare stories of people being said to have tasted the environment of hell and torment. Howard Storm is a well-known publicized case.

I'm not catholic, but I have always been a big believer in some of the cannonizations of the well known saints that have lived on Earth in the past. It's also well known though that most of those people have been very controversial, kind of like me around here, drawing criticism for being "fake" from some people but being praised by others who see them as intercessors. A great example of this is the famous stigmatic Padre Pio of San Giovanni Rotundo in Italy. Those who believe he was indeed granted the power to perform divine services on Earth as an intercessor for God are people like Paul Walsh and Vera Marie Calandra.
 

MickJav

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Sorry but the bible is full of contridictions that can't be proved or disproved.

But if those who used the bible to enable there own agendas instead of openning there eyes and seeing the real world around them and all the sufferening that religion causes.

All I can see is all the death and distuction religion has caused over the years must be in the billions of deaths by now.

I'm sorry but why so much suffereing for a bit of paper that can't be traced or maybe the source is know but they hide it so they can keep bashing us around the head with it.

because I don't believe in it don't make me bad it make me a human being who sees with eyes open not blinkers they want use to wear.
 

vba_php

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All I can see is all the death and distuction religion has caused over the years must be in the billions of deaths by now.
yet another reason why the people I'm in contact with do not call themselves "religious". Granted, most of the bible is full of nothing but historical events, most of which are not related to Christ's life. Some though in the old testament, were written by the authors for the specific purpose of prophesising Jesus' appearance on Earth. One of my favorites is found in Isiah:
Behold, your king comes to you riding on a donkey
which of course is foretelling Jesus' triumphant ride into Jerusalem on a colt, as he prepares to be betrayed. If you want an example of contradictions, I would think of nothing better than the constant bickering back and forth between apostles Peter and Paul regarding their leader's words and what they really meant. I personally prefer Paul because Peter was such a moron and stumblebum.
 

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Tera, yes there is anger in some of what I say, but I will not direct that randomly.

Some of the anger is that people find out about my viewpoint and do their best (worst?) to try to convert me. But I already WAS a Christian and converted AWAY from it. They don't get it... there IS no going back. There IS no "believing" in that which you cannot accept as real. When I was a kid, I was brought up Methodist and didn't think about it. But at age 35, the first time I found myself in a personal crisis, the Bible fell apart before my eyes as I searched for and never found any usable good news.

But since then I have become even MORE attuned to the hatred offered by Christians who take extreme measures to thwart the happiness and lives of gays. When I married my wife, I discovered that her eldest daughter was gay. Now that I know her, I love her for the really good and decent person she is. But I had been good friends with a few gay people over the years and casual friends with dozens.

As a young musician in New Orleans, playing contemporary music on Bourbon Street, I was on stage. Everyone would talk to me. It's a characteristic of being a member of a popular (if minor) band. And I saw the hurt in the eyes, heard the hurt in the voice, of those who were always put down by rabid Christians.

At this point, I see Christian activists as being equally hateful as Muslim activists - both sets of activists giving other members of their religion a bad name because they CAN'T learn to live and let live. That hatred triggers my anger.

Please understand, Tera, that if you have a question for me, I will not react to YOU in anger unless you outright insult me or touch on the sore spot I just mentioned.
 

vba_php

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They don't get it... there IS no going back. There IS no "believing" in that which you cannot accept as real.
if you haven't already ignored me Richard, I would tend to differ with you on this one. For about 6 years, starting in 2013, I was sure I had committed apostasy, which is an unforgivable sin, because I fell deeply into a state of mental anguish and depression that lasted for years after I had committed all sorts of sins in the form of immorality. But for the last year or so it seems as though I've been given a 2nd change to redeem myself, and of course I will use the chance to do as much good as I can. If you think I'm trying to convert you by posting this thread Richard, I would suggest you rethink that one as well. Per Christ's new covenant, pushing that agenda is a sin in its own right. Maybe we have now reverted back to being enemies with differing points of view after the last good-will handshake? I hope not....
 

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I might point out too you guys, that, in my government job one of my managers is gay and I get along with him probably better than I do with the other managers or any other employees at the place! We both have compassion for other people and he's a great guy. The subject of Christianity hasn't come up yet in our discussions yet, but if it ever does I'm sure he'll understand what I tell him and I'll understand what he tells me. But the bottom line with my compassion for the man is that, if he ever wants to explore the Christian views on supposed "immorality", I'll surely tell him about it. But like I said before, in terms of scripture, it doesn't definitively state that being gay is sexually immoral, it just *hints* at it.
 

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vba_php said:
If anyone responds to this, it might become a heated discussion, but let us keep it light and playful.

There is nothing playful about a discussion of people who cling desperately to a fantasy about death not being final. There is nothing playful about people who reject others for being different. There is nothing playful about groups who openly parade in protest to people who just want to have fun and live their lives. There was nothing playful about what was done by a couple of "good Christian boys" to Matthew Shepard.

Adam, if you want playful, pick a topic of a lesser degree of seriousness. In this world there are WARS fought over religious messages. People are DYING out there and you want a discussion of religion to be light and playful. Yet another example of your narrow-focus viewpoint.

I don't hate you, Adam, but there are times when I am very disappointed in your choices.
 

vba_php

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I don't hate you, Adam, but there are times when I am very disappointed in your choices.
OK...........

but hopefully you agree with me when I say that I'm part of the minority out there that are not acting like hateful Christians. Those people are doing just as much damage to the world as almost every politician. But I see that this thread has gained some popularity around here at this point, so hopefully the words contained in here can give at least *someone* out there a positive view of this place!
 

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