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Archive for July, 2019

by Jim Gordon

Looking back over the postings of Done with Religion, we started with a few posts in May of 2010 and another in February 2011. Not until July of 2011 did we start regular and continual postings on this site. Since then we have had eight years of continual writing at Done with Religion. The time has sure flown by but it has been fun learning and meeting new people along the way.

Over the years I have seen a change in my views, beliefs and interpretations of what I believe the bible says and what God meant for the Church. Church being the body of Christ, not a building or an organization.

My views and beliefs changed a little over time while growing up in the organized church. Yet after my wife and I walked away from the organization I have seen even more changes since being outside the walls of religion.

I think it is easy to get set in our ways, to live within the box of organized religion and stop thinking for ourselves.

I believe that the Spirit of Christ lives within us and we will do much better to focus on hearing directly from the Spirit rather than the many different voices of men and women trying to tell us what God wants us to do. There is nothing wrong with getting ideas and opinions from others, but never put your full trust into people. We have the Spirit living within us and we should be constantly listening for that still, small voice to guide us in our life.

I believe we will be constantly changing and adjusting our beliefs in this world. Living for God is something that is alive and constantly changing as the Spirit reveals new truths to us as we are able to accept them.

Over these eight years we have seen changes in views and beliefs as well as changes in writers. Two new regular writers and one guest blogger have been added and they have made a very good addition to the views, insights and writing styles of Done with Religion. I look forward to the next eight years and I think it will be interesting to look back at that point and see what God has taught us and how he changed us as we seek to show his love, grace and freedom to others.

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/knowing-souls/

“So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint
Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
No, you don’t know how it feels to be me”. – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Do we really know “how it feels” to be in someone else’s shoes? Can we really comprehend the magnitude of other people’s experiences? Hard to say, really.  I know for myself; it is not easy trying to empathize and relate to others experiences and dispositions. We all attempt and often fail miserably. Often, our motives are what really play a huge part in how we engage with others and their issues. Coming from the Christian perspective, I think we are on the failing end of making a positive difference in others who are different then us.

It has become a competition in winning the souls of others, instead of building authentic relationships. Numerous of factors come into play of why this is. Not to get to long winded on this blog post, but the biggest driving force is the concept of hell. The Christian tradition has morphed into a factory of “get people of hell in the afterlife” instead of letting people experience “heaven on earth in the here and now”. Fear, greed, and the us vs. them motif is the foundation of this unfortunate state of affairs we are currently experiencing.  When you make a belief system of fear and hate into a thriving institution, the effects are direly devastating.

But, I don’t think all is lost (yes, very optimistic of me I know).  There always has been another spark and remnant that comes out of the evil empire that brings about hopeful change. I would like to quote this verse from the Christian scriptures that brings to light these two contending ideas of winning souls vs. entering in genuine relationships:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

The premise I take here (from the many different interpretations and commentary I have found with this scripture verse, and guess what? That’s ok!), Paul was trying to bring about blessings to those he made contact with for the sake of the gospel. It states: “I have become all things to all people…in order to save some”. It has the “winning souls” rhetoric here and to the first century readers that could have been more of a way of getting to a better way of being to escape the oncoming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (just a little side note hehe). But, I think how Paul finished up this passage is showing the real intention of “becoming all things to all people” (the true relationship builder): SO THAT I MAY SHARE IN ITS BLESSINGS! This right here is the point of entering in relationships with others.  This is what the Gospel of Christ should bring to ALL PEOPLE.

It about truly knowing people.  When Jesus says: To know God and His Son, this knowing is ginosko and this literally means “a felt knowing”, as in RELATIONAL! No matter who it is–black, white, gay, straight–experiencing the blessings of peace which produces love is what it’s all about. It is going out there and becoming friends with others (I know we can’t do this with everyone, but I think we can fucking do a better job than what we are doing now)! This is what brings us out of the hell we sometimes find ourselves in this life. The Kin-dom reality is about the here and now.  We will never develop and evolve (aka salvation) as a species until we realize that its real relationships that will get us there…

“Self-sufficiency makes God experience impossible! That’s why Jesus showed up in this world as a naked, vulnerable one, a defenseless baby lying in the place where animals eat. Talk about utter relationship! Naked vulnerability means I’m going to let you influence me; I’m going to allow you to change me. The Way of Jesus is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead. We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in absolute relatedness. To choose to stand outside of this Flow is the deepest and most obvious meaning of sin. We call the Flow love. We really were made for love, and outside of it we die very quickly.”

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

The Bible often does portray God as an angry hothead.

Many Old Testament passages just can’t be rationalized away. The story starts off by God destroying the world minus eight with a Flood. Even if it was a local as opposed to global flood, the metaphor still stinks! There were surely a few people innocent of evil so horrific to escape such actions by God. Who doesn’t think it is wrong to drown just one child in a bathtub? It gets worse by killing babies in Egypt and God supposedly ordering the Israel army to “not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”(I Sam. 15:3). Hundreds of passages seem to advocate evil behaviors in God’s name.

Hundreds of passages also speak of God’s love and mercy. Did the biblical writers think it sacrilegious to not portray God in controlling terms like the others gods at that time? We have every right to question if the writers’ views of God evolved over time. God can handle it. I wish the writers had clearly indicated God was angry at evil as opposed to people. God violent one minute and merciful and loving the next minute sounds like an abusive spouse or parent.

Doesn’t the Bible say “fear God” or else?  

We are often encouraged to fear God as if God thinks such fear and obligatory loves leads to a genuine relationship. God supposedly demands fear for ego reasons or as a sign of reverence. Fearing someone seldom leads to an inspiring relationship with that person. Some scholars suggest “fear God” is better phrased “respect God.” God’s request for respect (glory) is no different than a loving parent’s hope for respect because their love should have their child’s best interest in mind.  

Are humans really holier or more moral than God?

A human parent warns or gets upset with a child’s actions not in their best interest or the welfare of others, but that doesn’t lead to them wanted to annihilate their child. What God or parent doesn’t know sin has its own consequences; God doesn’t seek to pile on the anger. God doesn’t worry that their unimaginable love gives us further license to keep sinning. Acting selfish is natural and doesn’t wait for permission. God seeks to continually assure us of their love so we don’t every give up no matter how demoralized we may feel.

God couldn’t be egotistical!

If God was so worried about their reputation, God certainly would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. All the evil in the world suggests God isn’t controlling. God is not more concerned with restoring their honor than expressing a desire for a relationship freely chosen. Many religions today imply their god expects certain beliefs or face immediate extinction. Not the God of the Bible! And what kind of all-powerful God wants to be friends? Abraham (Jm. 2:23) and Moses (Ex. 33:11) are called God’s friend, and Jesus called the disciples His friends (Jn. 15:15). God is our Creator and Friend.

God isn’t possessive of their glory.

What kind of parent wants to be alone in their glory? Jesus says in John 17:22 after speaking on fulfilling his mission with his disciples and then turning his attentions to all who believe: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”  We cannot be God, but we can strive to be like God. God’s request for glory is not self-infatuation. Imagine a world that glorified God in all they did! There would be no evil or suffering caused by others in the world. There would be no physical or sexual abuse in the world. There would be no parents living out their dreams through their children. There would be no bigotry based on the color of your skin or the gender you were born.  There would be no locking of cars and houses. God gets a bad rap when portrayed as selfish or obsessed with themselves.

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

 

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by Rocky Glenn

An unexpected adventure found on a long night’s journey to observe the super moon although the intended destination was never reached, the unforgettable sensation of chills running down my arms when voices unite bringing the musical arrangements of my first Easter cantata to life, losing track of time when my newborn son opened his eyes and stared into mine as I spoke, the sweet contentment of my baby girl sitting on my lap while her favorite Disney princesses ice skate right by us, gazing into my wife’s eyes on our wedding day as I serenade her with a song written specially for the day . . .

Some of life’s greatest treasures are simply the moments we hold in our heart and reflect on, better known as memories. Memories are moments of time which made a mental impression upon us. At the time the impression is formed, we likely do not realize the images, emotions, sights, and sounds which are being recorded. Memories aren’t something you can force to happen. They form naturally and spontaneously with nearly no conscious effort on our part. Memories are formed when we learn to enjoy the moment.

Enjoying the moment can take many forms and does not necessarily mean a time of happiness, giddiness, and laughter. For the marching band students from my previous post, the director’s admonition to enjoy the moment certainly did not authorize them to be frivolous and silly during their performance. His words served as a reminder and encouragement to simply say, “You’ve prepared. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to get you here. Now, relax, give it all your all and do what you know to do.” He was telling them to be present in this moment and experience it as it happens with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

To better understand this concept, it’s important to know the difference between happiness and joy. Though similar, the two emotions differ based on their source and where they originate. Happiness relies on external factors such as circumstances, events, and even other people. Happiness can be fleeting: here one moment, gone the next. Joy is lasting and is found internally. It resides in controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. Joy comes in knowing who you are and accepting who you are. Defined biblically, joy simply means a calm delight. This is the message the band director was trying to convey. Remain calm and delight in this moment and the memory will form itself.

Despite the moments listed above, some memories do not become enjoyable until we view them in the future as reflections of the past. To label those moments as bad memories is a disservice. I believe this is where the pleasure and satisfaction part of enjoying the moment applies. Even in times of unhappiness, pain, and sorrow, it’s possible to reside in a state of calm delight. No one enjoys times of loss and suffering, yet during those times some of our most treasured memories are formed. I was five years old when I lost my grandfather in South Carolina, yet no one will ever be able to steal the moment I crawled up on his hospital bed and kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, Papa,” for the final time although he was already gone. Twenty-seven years later I stood beside my mother in the emergency room as we now said goodbye to her dad, and he drew his final breath. Those moments were crushing and heart-breaking to live through but looking back I value each of those moments as both honored and sacred moments.

If I’m being honest, since I set out on this path a couple of weeks ago of examining what it means to enjoy the moment, I have encountered just as many moments I wished to run away from as I sought to enjoy. On many occasions I’ve neglected the notion of being present in the moment as I’ve longed for an escape. I will share more about that next time as I discuss why we don’t often enjoy the moment and what keeps us from doing so. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to read this tale from three years ago of my family’s experience of attempting to enjoy the journey of going on vacation.

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we are seemingly created to love others? What if you discovered all this crazy talk about the world ending with the Battle of Armageddon isn’t in the Bible?

  • People talking about Jesus coming and such predictions never coming to past make God-folks seem slightly loony. Too, certain end-time views can lead to passive living and not taking care of the world for the next generation. God surely prefers focusing on making a difference than escaping. I have to admit though being lifted up in the sky (i.e. rapture) doesn’t exactly thrill me because of my fear of heights!
  • There are many different views of the end-times in the Bible by scholars. I would suggest since we can’t know for sure that we ought to live lives as if it mattered for the next generation. One should ask if the Bible teaches God is coming again to destroy the word in the future, why did Jesus tell his audience that supposed predictions about the world ending would happen in their lifetime: “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass way until all these things have happened” (Mt. 24:34)?
  • If Jesus is coming again down from the sky, which is supposedly an idea from the Bible, why did the disciples ask Jesus: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Mt. 24:3)? Only non-visible, spiritual comings are missed.
  • Maybe the end-times were not an earth ending event. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Mt. 24:3) In the first century the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed and millions of lives were lost. Biblical Judaism ceased to exist. This could have been the end of the age that Jesus warned of. Biblical writers go on to say God no longer dwells in temples but people’s hearts.
  • End-times talk is often associated with the talk of hell and heaven. Jesus didn’t say much about heaven as one may think. When Jesus spoke about eternal life, He spoke of it not in terms of something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. See here. 
  • Why doesn’t the Bible say more about heaven? A solely heavenly focus can lead to passive earthly living, similar to focusing on Jesus’ coming rather than making a difference in the world we live in currently.

But, what about the Book of Revelation?

Revelation was written to people in the writer’s era warning about their near future; it is not a letter written to predict a distant future. Self-destruction is predicted if looking to nations then our Creator for solutions. Words “antichrist” or “rapture” are not found in Revelation. Many simply use such words from other books in the Bible to weave into their story advocating for an end to the world. Revelation doesn’t require a violent end by God but encourages its readers living in such a way that can lead to peace in our future here on earth. See insights on Revelation: https://thinkingpacifism.net/2019/06/27/revelation-for-post-christians-peaceable-revelation-1/#more-8468

 Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

 

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by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger
https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com

“With the recent rise of progressive “Christianity” in the last few years, it’s no surprise that one of the prevailing themes is social justice. Many denominations have been caught up in the movement forever. But social justice is not the gospel, and saying that it is, is heresy.”

How about that quote? Makes you feel all good and warm inside, right (NOT)? So many things to discuss with the current slam-campaign against the current “social justice” Gospel issue. What gives? Why are we seeing such a surge of warnings and statements against this idea? Look, from the perspective of the Christian tradition, the Gospel has been on the hot seat ever since Jesus presented it–all the way to Paul and Peter/James (Gentile converts vs The Jerusalem Church) and the debates of what all this good news really looks like for the participants of the faith. The same old tale of us vs. them.

We have seen the Gospel in the West, for example, being more of a system of beliefs then a way of how one lives out their life. This stems from numerous factors (both the “religious and secular”)–from the reformation and it’s revolt against the corrupted hierarchy, to the enlightenment and it’s doorway to free thinking. This opened up a whole new way of how we look at the good news of what Jesus came to proclaim. It’s no longer something just a few “religious” people get to enjoy or other “secular” individuals get to reject. We are discovering (and rediscovering) that it was always news that set the captives free (I think any human would agree that we all feel trapped at times)!

The Gospel should always be seen as a way to bridge the gap between the outcast and the conformed, the poor and rich, the black and white, the gay and straight, the man and woman, the transsexual and the heterosexual, the child and adult (Gal. 3:28-get the picture?). We cannot be bamboozled by this notion that the Gospel is just one tight net idea that once examined and believed, no other type of suggestions or behaviors can stem from it. The Gospel is a plethora of creative and innovative ways of being in the time and place we are given.

It’s not just a set of beliefs (atonement theories) to believe in, nor is it one certain type of action within ones culture (social justice). The Gospel involves those ideas and actions, for sure! But, its really just simply good news; which everyone needs nowadays. The purpose of news, which is good, is to propel oneself and his/her social environment to beneficial new heights that have not yet been reached. It’s a reality where all are unified but still diversified. It’s a group effort along with the individuals surge. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that (a little D Mob for you hehe).

No matter what illusions we were given with this Gospel message of Jesus, one thing is for sure: It’s good, it’s here and it can be a reality that we all can experience. We don’t have to bring the accusatory spirit when one is deciding to put this beautiful gospel into action. Let social justice be part of this beautiful gospel. Let certain beliefs that come out of this gospel be for those individuals or denominations to have (let their actions speak). Let’s all just relax and mind our own business when it comes to telling and experiencing this Gospel of the Kingdom! LOVE and be peacemakers, for fuck-sakes!? (Matthew 5:9)…

“What if Jesus was not offering his followers an ethical system to follow, but rather was inviting them to enter into a life of love that transcends ethics, a life of liberty that dwells beyond religious laws? The difference between following an ethical system and being consumed by love can be seen in the way that ethical systems seek to provide a way to work out what needs to be done so that it can be carried out. In contrast, love is never constrained, it never sits back, it always seeks to do more than what is demanded of it.” – Peter Rollins

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume every word penned comes from God. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

The infallibility of the Bible is a non-starter.  

We don’t have the original manuscripts. If infallibility was critical, why didn’t God find a way to preserve the original texts if God controlled the writers’ thoughts. The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned. Another view of the Bible is accepting as a document recording experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Such writings can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like.

Did God really inspire genocide or marrying one’s rapist?  

Did God really approve a woman being required to marry her rapist. Laws proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. The idea of a woman ever having to marry her rapist as a good thing hardly inspires many about God. I am convinced only humans thought this was a good law at that time, not God.

Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Only evil dictators approve of such actions or talk during war. Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. It isn’t irrational to ask if a good God would inspire or approve such thoughts or language.

An inspired Book leads down the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

Most admit literature requires interpretation, thus why biblical scholars often disagree about the meaning of the same passage. It is seldom voiced one’s view about God according to their interpretation could be wrong. Such an admission would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing opinions on others in the name of God.

An inspired Book has led to justifying violence in the name of God.

The possibility of an infallible or inspired Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming God’s views on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible or Koran.  Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Interpretations must be questioned by our moral consciences.

An inspired Book leads to declaring God mysterious, thus less knowable or relatable.

God is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretation clashes with common human moral sense. When assuming the writers understood God perfectly, we often search for ways to rationalize our interpretations. How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their evil in our eyes is supposedly good sometimes?

People may be rejecting God for the wrong reasons.

Two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches that God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Women can rightly feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. People condemn gays, despite their heart saying otherwise, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book.

It is dangerous to value right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others.

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses how we ought to treat others. The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Many Christians are rightly accused to be judgmental when they in the name of God condemn gays, prohibits women from serving as pastors or priests, and judge others based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born. Their heart often tells them differently. There is likely more harm done when declaring certainty than uncertainty about God. It prevents conversations looking for areas we agree, respecting the opinions or others, and committing to growing in understanding.

Dangers In Not Questioning But Assuming The Bible Is Entirely Inspired By God

 

Series:

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

 

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