May 3 2019

Jonathan Edwards was a heretic

I have two words to say about Jonathan Edwards’ theology: Bull. Shit.

Apparently Edwards hadn’t read 1 John: “…let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He that does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

And, he must have missed what God said in the New Testament:

  • Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Love your enemies, and bless those who curse you.
  • Who here condemns you? … Neither do I condemn you.
  • Learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
  • Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.

Uh… something doesn’t add up

Okay, so–we are to love sinners and show them mercy and kindness, just like Jesus did. All so apparently God can torture them forever after they die.

Just gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn’t it?

Or, is Jesus of a different mind than God the Father? That is, is God schizophrenic?

Think about this angry God teaching for a bit. I’m pretty sure we’ve all encountered it at some point. Many of us were raised with it. Is there any way you can reconcile the “angry god” with Jesus God?

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    Apr 21 2019

    Easterish thoughts

    Many of you who know me understand that I am deeply and firmly Christian, but not very religious at all. This tends to bother a lot of Christians who, frankly, have a bit of superstition and/or legalism mixed in to their theology. I try not to have either.

    This is not to say that I don’t love liturgy, because I do (within reason). I am particularly fond of the Book of Common Prayer. I also enjoy a good Episcopal Easter service (or Lutheran), because I really like the classic Easter hymns such as “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” and the only time you sing those is one Sunday a year. Honestly, that’s the main reason I would choose to attend church on Easter as opposed to any other day.

    Honestly, Easter as a holiday does nothing for me, faith wise. Certainly, it’s meant to be a marker, a time for focusing thoughts, etc. For many in the evangelical and Roman Catholic worlds, it’s a time to be saddled with guilt and so on, to finally be set free on Easter Sunday (if you can get over the PTS).

    A [very] little theology

    I see Easter only as part of a larger story, and to isolate it loses some of the meaning. The same is true for Christmas, Good Friday, etc. You can’t truly celebrate Easter without considering the Incarnation. God becoming man, living as a human, diving headlong into death in order to blow its doors off, rising from the dead a new kind of man, and then ascending into heaven, are all components of one huge salvific act.

    This awareness–this reality–is a part of me 356-1/4 days a year; it’s a lease through which I view people, nature, and myself.

    So, Easter Sunday has no more meaning for me than next Thursday. But I still love the old Easter hymns.

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      Apr 2 2019

      I don’t know why me

      (Is that proper English?)

      I have a distinct memory was walking around our property (somewhere between the square building in the photo and the larger rectangular building), acutely aware that God loved me unconditionally, and that He was the only one who could love me like that. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what, God would always love me, even if I did something so bad that my friends and even my parents couldn’t. And that was a stretch, as I came from a very loving home.

      This does not mean that I believed that I would be rich or that nothing bad would ever happen to me. I wasn’t stupid. And when bad things did happen, I would wonder why and even get angry, but I knew that God loved me, no matter what.

      Fear God?

      When I hear other people talk of their issues being raised in church, I realize that mine is not a typical story. I have never, ever been afraid of God. Never. I have never had a fear of hell, or of not measuring up to God’s standards. I’ve often been afraid of not measuring up to man’s standards, or even my own, but I’ve always known that I’m OK with God. I’ve never, ever doubted that. He has always been my failsafe.

      As you’d expect, many people throughout my life have tried to “put the fear of God in me.” I’ve heard my share of holy roller, hellfire, end-times, holiness and guilt preachers. I was not raised in that kind of environment, but I have been surrounded by evangelicals and fundamentalists since my teens. First it was “The Late Great Planet Earth” then came the Jesus Movement. Growing up Christian in the 60’s And 70’s was a weird time. I had my share of fear and trembling, but it was never the fear of God. I knew that God loved me, and would accept me no matter what.

      Why me?

      I am aware–perhaps now than ever–that my seemingly innate knowledge of God is not typical, and like Kris Kristofferson, I don’t know “why me?”

      I’m not complaining, and definitely not boasting the way some do when they talk about how “blessed” they are. Perhaps I just needed that innate sense of God to survive. What I know is, I didn’t “accept” Jesus or decide to believe in God. I just always did. It was God who accepted me. And as Jesus is quoted as saying in John 10, no one is going to snatch me out of God’s hand. I’m apparently here to stay, because it’s not up to me to persevere (sorry, Calvin). And, of course, I’m not complaining at all. 

      So here I am, nearly 64 years old, and my faith in God is essentially the same as when I was 4. Certainly I know more theology (for better or for worse), but what theology has done is to allow me to threw away all of the trash that popular Christianity has tried to dump on me–I have walked through the maze of pop religion (my initial draft said “bullshit” but I toned it down), and found I was still standing in my front yard knowing that God loves me, no matter what.

      This I know too

      But I know something else: God loves all of you, too, even if you don’t believe it’s possible. He loves you “just the way you are” (was that Billy Joel, or Mr. Rogers?). God loves you even if you can’t love yourself. You may be filled with guilt and shame, just wanting to keep hidden from view. But, I know that God’s love isn’t affected by your feelings, or your actions. Love is God’s essence; it’s impossible for him not to love. 

      God has never said, “Love me or go to hell.” It’s just bad preachers who say that. There’s no one dangling over the pit of hell. The Bible doesn’t teach that “God is wrath.” It teaches that God is love.

      Many Christians will be very upset that I say such things, as they’ve been motivated their whole lives by a fear of hell and judgments and they think it’s somehow dangerous to believe that God is not one part love and one part wrath. Or, they think it’s at least unfortunate that those people we don’t love won’t be torched by God in the afterlife.

      The thing is… 

      The think about believing in a loving God is that it means that God actually does love Muslims, and LGBTQ+ people, and all of those refugee people. And, he loves them just as much as he loves us.

      Whoa.

      So, I guess we’ll need to talk some more about this.

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        Mar 20 2019

        This I Know

        About 10 years ago I wrote a little post about a little revelation I had about my faith that has really impacted me. Somehow, the original post was deleted–I have no idea how or why. But, as chance would have it, I discovered the following, which appears to be an updated version of that post. So, here it is.

        This I Know

        Over my nearly 60 years of life, I have had only a handful of revelations that have had a lasting impact on me. I can recall specific details about each experience and by and large they were fairly mundane, but the specific epiphanies would change how I saw things from that point on. I mention this only to provide a little background on one I had perhaps 5 years ago.

        As with the other, it was not a Damascus Road experience; rather, it was more of an Emmaus Road revelation, like having a mist lifted so that you see more clearly where you are already walking. And, as much of my brilliant thoughts do, it came while I was thinking about something entirely unrelated.

        My revelation was simply this: I still believed in the same God I believed in as a child.

        That’s it.

        It may seem underwhelming to you, but 5 years or so later, I am still aware of this reality. It is now foundational to who I am.

        Now, this doesn’t mean that I have simply maintained my death-grip on my childhood beliefs, because that’s not true. My theology has changed over the years – several times, in fact. I have been around the block, so to speak, more laps than most. While I, out of youth and ignorance, was impacted by various pop theologies and trends over the years, I have maintained my simple belief in God, and that Jesus loves me, this I know. I have rejected more doctrines and beliefs throughout my life than many people have ever encountered. Many were illogical in some form or other, some were stupid, and a few were just bat-shit crazy (that’s a common theological term).

        In spite of traveling in and out of various evangelical, charismatic, sometimes wacky, ancient liturgical, emergent, and often boring intellectual Christian churches and groups, in spite of moving from moderate to conservative to something else, and in spite of being led through a morass of theological trends, I believe in the same God I believed in as a child.

        I’ve had many, many people try to talk me out of it. I’ve been dispensationalized, fundamentalated, legalized, charismatized, jeopardized, and tribulated. I’ve gutted my library of trash theology more than once. And in the end, I believe in the same God I believed in as a child.

        Now, smart atheists will tell me this proves that religion is a product of our environment, that if I grew up believing in Some Other God, that’s who I’d believe in today. Granted, exposure is an obvious factor in belief. Paul says this himself in Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” However, I know many, many people who believe differently today than they did as children. Tons. So, I’d have to say that while I truly appreciate the fact that I was raised a Christian, I’d have to say that what I believe today is not because of what I believed as a child (I believed in Santa Claus then, too).

        Now, I have heard and read many testimonies of people who have rejected the beliefs they were raised with, and as a result they have concluded that they don’t believe in God. Some of them even have blogs where they love to talk about what they no longer believe. This unbelief in God is an understandable leap of logic, I guess, but generally I find that it’s lazy as well as illogical. I hear these stories and think, So what? I reject those things, too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God. You don’t reject all pizza because you don’t like anchovies.

        So back to the profundity of my revelation, specifically related to current belief and unbelief trends. When people are leaving the church and faith in droves, is it perhaps because they were never taught the truth about God in the first place? When the illogic and absurdity and hype and the control-freakism of religious traditions come crashing down, is there anything left to believe in?

        For me, there was. I rejected dispensationalism and God was the same. I rejected legalism and God was the same. I rejected penal substitutionary atonement and God was the same. I rejected literalism and God was the same. I rejected wacko-ism and God was the same. And in fact, not only was God the same, but it was specifically because God was the same that I rejected these errant beliefs.

        If I had to pick a theme song, I think it would be Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith. My faith is not in science or progress, or in a church, or theology, or, as odd as it sounds, even in the Bible. My faith is not in a political system or the definition of marriage. I don’t care if evolution is true or if there’s life on other planets. My faith is in God and the truth of the Gospel, that Jesus loves me, this I know. The same God, and same Gospel, I was taught as a child.

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