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Archive for the ‘Jesus follower’ Category

by Jim Gordon

If you grew up in church, have you ever thought about the idea that maybe we were told some wrong things and taught some wrong interpretations? Maybe some of the doctrines we have followed were incorrect?

Most of us who have been in the church for any length of time know how the system works and it is really all we know. We listen to a pastor and figure they know what they are talking about because they were “called by God”. They went to college to be taught by another human everything about God.

For myself and my wife, the longer we were in the institution the more we felt uncomfortable and began questioning some things that just did not seem to fit together. I remember having several questions over time about doctrines and various interpretations that no longer made sense to me. I knew if I asked the pastor or others in the church, they would think I was wrong for questioning and would say I was falling away from my faith.

As we spend more time outside the walls of religion, we have come to find that some of what we were taught all those years just might not be the way God intended. Spiritual leaders might have taught some wrong doctrines all based on human interpretation apart from the Spirit.

We have found that asking questions usually leads to more questions. I think it is time we stop relying on a pastor or spiritual leader to tell us all about God and start thinking for ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit within us who was sent to teach us. We have the mind of Christ, so why do we still think we need another human being to tell us all about God.

There is nothing wrong with discussing thoughts and ideas with other people. It is not wrong to hear different views and interpretations. We can certainly learn from others and they can give us other views to consider. Yet, we should follow the guidance of the Spirit and do not totally rely on the teachings of others.

I have found that being certain usually means we think we have it all figured out and there is nothing more to learn. This could not be further from the truth. A book I read on certainty, which was a big help in understanding and accepting questions and doubt was The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns.

We will never know all there is to know about God and we will never figure everything out. But we can continue to learn and be drawn to the truth by asking questions, talking about our doubt and by our reliance upon the Spirit.

Ask the Spirit to lead you into His truth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be ashamed of your doubts. God is big enough to handle them all. Remember, we are all equally functioning parts of the body with Christ as the head. We do not need to rely on another human being to teach us about God. Listen for the quiet and calm voice of the Spirit and seek His guidance.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

It is not simple to decide what to believe about God. Afterall, an invisible, inaudible God doesn’t speak to most of us. It is argued we should believe what the Bible says about God. But scholars and laypeople who respect the Bible as authoritative don’t always agree what the Bible claims about God. At least non-Bible folks understand no Book can be proven that the writers’ thoughts or words were supernaturally controlled, much less be perfectly interpreted. We must use our moral intuitions when deciding what views best described a loving God.

Where has depending on a Book lead us?

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here. Some religions defend killing homosexuals because of their unprovable assumption that every word in a Book was inspired by God. They of course don’t question if their interpretation is inspired. Many claim the Bible says that women can’t fulfill the same roles as men in the worship or home setting. Yet, it can be interpreted that Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, thought roles should be based on one’s gifts not gender.  See here.  We cannot rely solely on a Book to understand God.

Even the Bible implies to trust your moral intuitions

Only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. Even the Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Christians often say God’s spirit (aka Holy Spirit) does or can reside within you. Unless the Spirit talks to you audibly or visibly, we can’t avoid examining out intuitions when discerning the Spirit’s voice. We can’t always be certain how to best love, but unless you are a totally self-centered human being, believe about God what makes perfect loving sense to you!

Whose intuitions should we trust? 

It is often claimed there can be no absolute truths about God, if we can’t rely on the Bible. No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. We can’t understand perfectly, but it seems our understandings must lead to loving others as we want to be loved. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Who doesn’t believe sexual abuse is absolutely wrong? Not even terrorists would accept their wives and children being beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming a Book is direct God-speak. All want to be treated with loving kindness.

What would a loving God be like? 

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. Is love controlling or manipulative? Then, God can’t be controlling or manipulate. It matters what you think God is like. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Choose biblical interpretations and understandings of God that don’t contradict your moral sense of a loving God. You may be right!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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Does it Sound Familiar?

(Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash)

by Jim Gordon

When I think back over my life within the church, I realized that I have been involved in church for nearly sixty years. I know my parents took me to church on the first Sunday I was home from the hospital and ready to be out in public.

I have so many good memories over the years of growing up in church. When I say church, I am talking about the building, the organization, the traditional religious system that we all think of when we say church.

I remember all the usual parts of church like going to Sunday school, vacation bible school, children’s church, junior church and youth group. I liked going to these activities and I never asked to stay home or miss them. Actually, I was disappointed if I was sick and could not go.

In the first church I was part of, I remember the main thing I was taught in Sunday school, at least in my eyes, was how to eat a cookie with my finger through the hole in the middle. I do not think my parents were very happy with that and it was not long afterward that my parents moved to another church where I stayed for another 20 years.

At that church we were taught all the traditional bible stories and were rewarded with pins for good attendance. I enjoyed learning and was presented a bible for doing so well with quizzes and attendance. I enjoyed meeting new kids my age and getting to know them, although it took a long time to do since I only saw them for an hour one day each week.

I was always part of vacation bible school each summer. My mom helped as an assistant or a teacher and I enjoyed hearing the bible stories and making crafts. I remember at the age of ten I accepted Christ at vacation bible school. I can remember listening to a nice older lady talk about how God loved us and sent his son to die for us. I remember raising my hand when she asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ as savior, then I walked up front and was led in a prayer. Even at the age of ten I realized that just because my parents were Christians, I needed to make a decision for myself. It was the best decision I ever made.

Moving Up to the Youth Group

As the years went by, I moved up to the youth group and the various activities young teenagers get to do. I can remember one time I was on the phone with our youth leader for well over an hour as he tried to talk me into going on a youth camping trip that I wanted nothing to do with. He was sure he was going to talk me into going but in the end, I won out and did not go. I wondered why he spent so much time trying to convince me to go when he could have talked with three or four other kids who may have really enjoyed it.

Of course, as teenagers we would always find the best seat in the Sunday morning worship service, which was the back row. I think the pastor was just happy we were even in the service at all. I was also on the church basketball team and met more new people. I thought it a little weird that many of the kids on the church team were hot-tempered and foul mouthed. I knew that most were not regular church attendees and they only came to church during basketball season. I also knew they were required to be at church as often as possible if they wanted to play. Once basketball was over, I never saw them again until the next season.

(Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash)

Once people found out I could play the drums and the piano they quickly enlisted me to play for special services and the children’s church. I did not want to do it since I was extremely nervous about being in front of people, but I felt I would be wrong to turn down using my ‘talents’ for the Lord.

Once I said yes to something the ball really started rolling. Next, I was helping with Junior church, going on youth conference trips out of state, doing visitation with the pastor and then added to the Administrative Board. Wow, that was an eye opener.

I had always had a high regard for the church board members who were the ‘backbone’ of the church. I thought what spiritual people they must be to be entrusted with the plans and happenings of the church.

It did not take long to see that what went on in the monthly meeting was certainly not very spiritual. Up to that point, I had never seen so much arguing and disagreement in my life. Needless to say, I did not stay part of the board very long. I decided to leave that to the much older and wiser people (who knew how to argue much better than I).

Well, so much for the early years of my church attendance. It was pretty typical and non-eventful, but I really enjoyed the many experiences. I learned a lot and met many people who I enjoyed being around, although most of them I never saw outside of the church building or church events. This pretty much brings us up to my church history as a young adult.

The Young Adult Years

As a young adult I continued on with the weekly attendance at the same local church, although the particular place would be changing over time.

At my ‘home’ church my parents were always active and well known. My dad was the Sunday school superintendent and lay leader. My mom helped in junior church, vacation bible school and worked in the office on Sunday. As a young adult I have to say I enjoyed the popularity of being known by about everyone in the congregation. I even had my own key to the church building so I could go in anytime I wanted and pray or play the piano or just talk with a friend or two.

I think it was around this stage that things began to change for me. I began having questions about things I was reading in the bible, but I knew that it was best to keep these questions to myself. I figured there were logical explanations that I would figure out as time went by, or maybe it was a matter of not completely understanding the bible. Yet I knew they were not questions I should bring up openly or people would begin to question my faith.

A friend of mine invited me to his church one evening for a special service. After the service he introduced me to his pastor and we talked a little bit. The pastor was very friendly and seemed interested in having me there. He kept talking about getting together with me to play checkers and talk a bit, but when I told him I had a home church he all of a sudden lost interest, thanked me for coming and took off to talk to someone else.

After twenty years or so in my home church I felt it was time to move on. I thought I had come to a point where I was not learning or growing and a new church would be the answer. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a long-drawn-out process of eventually leaving the system.

As I began to venture out and look at other churches I first went to a church of the same denomination, thinking new people and a different pastor was what I needed. It did not take long to realize I was not satisfied any more than I was at my previous church. So off I went looking for a different denomination to try out.

A friend of mine at work suggested visiting his church because it was friendly and exciting and had a pastor that preached the ‘full gospel’. I thought I would give it a try and after a couple visits thought I had found the most spiritual people in town. I also found a woman there who later became my wife. It was a non-denominational church and openly participated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was on cloud nine for a while thinking I had found what I was looking for, a place where the Spirit was falling on the congregation and God would show up for each service.

It took ten years but as I got to know people on a more personal level, I found out they were not as spiritual as I had first thought. It turned out that many of them only used different spiritual words and terms but were no different than any other Christian I knew. The church service, although livelier and more exciting, was still pretty much the same format and normal way of doing things.

(Photo by Rachel Coyne on Unsplash)

So, what did I do? Yep, my wife and I headed off to another church. This time we landed at a different style church than I had ever been in before, a mega-church. Wow, talk about exciting. They had a full band and the service was televised so there were lights, sound systems and performers in make-up. Again, I thought I had found the most spiritual people I had ever known.

After about three years it all kind of lost its excitement. I again noticed the same underlying system was in place. It was a little different in the fact that the pastor, if seen anytime off stage was escorted by body guards. When I wanted to walk around the large church complex and take a look at things ushers stopped me and told me I was not allowed in that particular area. Now to someone who used to have a key to the church building this was a big blow. I just could not get used to the tight security and the TV professionalism the pastor and musicians carried out each week.

One Marriage Ends, Another Begins

About this time my marriage of thirteen years fell apart. Things just did not work out and we went our separate ways. It was a blow to me because I was always taught in church how much God hated divorce. I had heard that many pastors and church workers in the past were told they could no longer participate in leadership roles at church due to being divorced. I decided, due to guilt mainly, the best thing to do was to drop out of church. I figured I would no longer be accepted there and actually thought God might be mad at me. This went on for about three years.

Now the best thing for me happened when I met a new woman who would eventually become my current wife. Yes, we ended up getting married even though I was taught divorce was wrong but remarriage was even worse. We both felt very much in love and believed that the love we felt could not be wrong and we believed God brought us together to live a happy life for him. I also felt good when we agreed we needed to get back to church. Fortunately, things began to change when we found our new church.

This time we ended up back at a denominational church but much smaller and more like the church I grew up in. The pastor was different. He seemed to have an enthusiasm and preached with excitement that neither of us had seen before. It was a friendly church, yet as time went on, we realized it was a church that was pretty much run by two different families. As we got to know the pastor more, we found that he was frustrated from the pressure put on him by these families who wanted things done their way. We also found out that the pastor recently had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and he was preaching with new power and enthusiasm, something we really enjoyed but this particular denominational church wanted nothing to do with it. The pastor was a great help to my wife and I telling us about grace, forgiveness and the love of God like we had never heard before.

Unfortunately, this did not last but for a few years. The pastor moved out of state and the church kind of fell apart. So again, off we went looking for something else. What we found next was the beginning of the end of our time in the organization and began my final part of church history. Remember I have been part of the traditional church organization for some forty years at this point.

After our last pastor moved out of state and that church faded into history, we found a church that had interested us and excited us for a year or two. A friend of mine had told me about it and it sounded great to us. It was a non-denominational church and since our last church was gone, we decided to give it a try.

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

This church was a little larger than what we were used to but was not a mega-church. The people were very friendly and there were so many activities in which to participate. We really liked that they gave food to the homeless and the poor in the area, they handed out water at parades and did several community related activities. After some time, we noticed that very few people tried to get to know us or spend time talking with us because they were so busy staying in groups with people they already knew. My wife actually called two different home group leaders and tried to find out information on joining the group but was met with resistance from leaders who did not seem to want ‘new’ people in their group.

Dissatisfaction with the church

It was at this time I was feeling a real dissatisfaction with the church system. I felt there must be something more, this did not seem to be what Jesus meant when he said he would build his church. There was so much division and separation, no one was allowed to talk or discuss anything and only a select few had control of the service, yet what I saw in the bible said we should all have a word, or a song or a prayer. I read that Jesus was the head and each of us are equally important parts of his body. And what about the verse telling us we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and he dwells within us. I kept thinking about this and wondering why so many said the building was the church and they kept saying come to our church because the Spirit is going to fall and God is going to show up at this particular meeting. Yet the bible said the Spirit fell a couple thousand years ago upon the Church, which was the people not a building. The Kingdom of God is within us and God is always with us, he is not going to show up at a special service when He is already within us.

It took us ten years at this particular church of going through the motions of getting up on Sunday morning, going to a service where we sat quietly looking at the back of someone’s head, going through the typical three songs, prayer, offering and listening to one person tell us their view of God, then getting up and walking out the door not seeing or hearing from anyone until the next Sunday. After several years of questioning and much dissatisfaction with the way the organized church seemed to be, we finally made the decision to leave the system and look to God for guidance. We began seeking the Holy Spirit to teach us because the bible says with the Spirit, we do not need anyone to teach us.

Of course, we were told by several people that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other Christians, yet I could not find in the bible where that meant we had to do so in a building on a specific day at a set time. My wife and I started asking God to lead us to people who we could encourage and who would encourage us. It was not long before we started having chance encounters with people, most of whom were going through or had gone through the same thoughts and feelings we were having.

Outside the Walls of Religion

We have found being outside of the organized church, we have been more open to meeting and accepting people who were different in their beliefs or lifestyle. We read in the bible where Jesus loved people and he did not separate himself by denominations or beliefs. Jesus was God in human form and God is love. We certainly did not always see a lot of love within the system because many seemed to think they were better than others or they had to stay away from certain people. So many felt they needed to point out the sins and mistakes of others or they were denying God.

We feel the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and it is not our job to point out where others may be wrong, if they are wrong at all. The Spirit will do the job of pointing out what needs to be changed and dealt with, we as followers of Christ are only called to love.

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Since being out of the system for about seven years now, neither of us have any desire to return. We have put our dependence on God and the Spirit for guidance and we are finding more and more believers to have fellowship with outside the walls of the traditional church. We would certainly not tell anyone not to go to church if that is what they want to do. For myself, I had many years within the system that were good and meaningful. I learned many things and had many good experiences in the system. My wife and I were not abused or hurt by the church but we felt a real unrest with the system. After being out of it we have found more meaningful fellowship and a closer walk with God than we ever did in the past.

Will we ever return to the church system? I do not know. Right now, I would say no because we have found a freedom and a dependence upon God that we never knew within the system. Yet we want to follow God and do what he leads us to, so if that would be where he wanted us sometime in the future then we would return.

I personally feel the system is wrong, not the people. There are many people within the organization that truly love God and are seeking to do what pleases him. There are many pastors and church workers who feel they are doing what they were called to do and I will not fault them for that. I think the organization is the problem. The organization is dependent on human leadership and human interpretation which causes division. I do not believe the church system is what Jesus was talking about when he said he would build his church. The Church is the people, not a building nor an organization.

Final Thoughts

If you are satisfied within the church system, then stay where you are until you feel God leading you to something else. If you feel the same unrest in your soul that we did for many years and are thinking of leaving the organization, then do so without any guilt. The Kingdom of God is within us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We can have fellowship any day, any place, any time when God brings us together for a meal or a time of talking or praying with another person or two. We want to live each day of our lives in fellowship with the Spirit, listening for his guidance and showing the love of God to any he brings along our path.

So, this brings us to the end of my church history as I knew it growing up. Yet it is not the end of my Church history because I am, along with every believer, part of the Church. It is not a building, it is not a system, not a man-run organization but it is each and every one of us who love God. Each of us are equally functioning parts of the body following Jesus who is head of the Church.

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by Jim Gordon

Those of us who are living outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building seem to understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (Ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ and not with brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended and we became unsatisfied with the way things were going. Yet, we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body, yet no one is the head over anyone else. Each of us are functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church, not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother or sister hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its scheduled events as the main way of fellowship and learning. We are told in the Bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise, but how often does that actually happen within the institutional church? Being outside the walls, my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about who God is to them. It seems that sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

A vitally important thing to remember for those of us who have left the church organization is that we should not have a feeling of ‘us vs them’. We need to keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and feel they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all various parts of the Church that Jesus is building and we each need to follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength but by the power of the Spirit within us. Sadly, it often seems we have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and an even greater problem loving those who see things differently.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of God and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among those who follow God. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and the disrespect that is sadly, so familiar among Christians today.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

A majority of people believe in God, but may not have a closer relationship with God because what they believe about God. No one can be certain what an invisible, inaudible God is like. I do know that only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. Show me the perfect parent, or one close to it, and I suspect that is what God is like. A reason some may believe otherwise is because of what they think a Book says about God. God may be more like you expected!

Is God really that Authoritative? 

Abraham questioned and negotiated with God (Gen. 18). God listened and considered Abraham’s concern. An Authoritative God would have said: “I am God so shut your mouth.” In Exodus, Moses balked when God asked Moses to return to Egypt and liberate the Jewish people. God didn’t say “Do not question my plan or authority!” God was adaptive in working with Moses. The Apostle Paul says love is patient, kind, and does not insist on its own way (I Cor 13). Love puts up with us, has faith in us, and places hope in us. See John Sanders: It Matters If Your God Is Nurturing Or Authoritative!

Is God really that Judgmental? 

Did God create us to remind God how great they are, or we can go to Hell? Doesn’t sound like a God I can get close to. Worse is if you believe Hell is a place for unending torture where pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death.  I think the Bible agrees. See here.  Call me a fool! If my kids hated my guts or ignored me and had a genuine change of heart in this life or the afterlife, I am ready to begin a relationship. So is God! 

Is God pissed and views you as a scum bag? 

Do you not give a damn how others feel or how your actions impact others? Color me God then. Your behaviors disgust me. Does God really view us as evil from birth and has to put on Jesus-colored glasses to even look at us? Such an idea could only come from one’s interpretation of a Book. But I could point to verses such as Isaiah 54:10: “…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken…says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” A loving God can only love how an earthly parent ought to love their child. 

Maybe God is kind and relatable like the parent you always wished for 

God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for my success, believes in me. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes. We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. God is dependent on us. An all-powerful God would only give us uncontrolled freedom if seeking a partnership and friendship with us.

Our view of God matters!

A belief in a benevolent God makes us kinder. We often treat others the way we think God treats us. How has God’s threats of punishment helped you break away from bad habits or behaviors you long to change? Grace or authoritativeness doesn’t guarantee change, but I believe we best change because of God’s or friends’ love and acceptance. If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may stop going to God when failing. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. Our image of God can dictate our beliefs about God. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others. You may discover God is more like what you assume a loving God is like.

What Kind Of God Do You Believe In?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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And Everyone Else is Wrong

by Jim Gordon

If you are around a lot of people or are on social media very often, you will see many people are ready to argue in order to prove their way of thinking, especially in regard to spiritual matters.

Some atheists complain about Christians believing in a fairy in the sky, some people get mad over the transgender debate, gays are treated like second-class citizens and some of them are hateful toward Christians. Many Christians fight with other Christians over doctrine and some can be very judgmental and condemning of atheists and the LGBT community. It seems each group is trying to prove why they are right and the other group is wrong and many times they do it in ways that are not so nice.

Why do so many people spend so much time arguing and defending personal views when we cannot prove any of it? Seriously, none of us can prove beyond a doubt our thoughts and views on spiritual things or life after death. We cannot prove God exists and we cannot prove he does not exist. There are so many varying doctrines, interpretations of the bible and denominations among Christianity that it is not surprising we do not know who is right or wrong?

If we really think about it no matter what your religion, what your faith or belief, what your lifestyle, if you are atheist, Christian, gay, agnostic, transgender, if you have a scientific view or creationist view none of us can prove our way of thought in regard to spiritual matters. It is our personal view and it is good to have those views, but we should not be trying to prove our way and push it onto others expecting them to see things our way.

Each group is passionate about the way they see things and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is expecting everyone to agree and go along with our way of thinking.

We are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to be accepting of others. Being accepting does not mean we always agree with one another or approve of everything people do, but we should be able to be kind and show respect to everyone even in our differences. Being judgmental, condemning, or poking fun at one another is certainly not being loving and kind.

It all boils down to no matter what route we take in life, what we think about life after death, what we think about God or spiritual life, none of us can prove our way of thinking, at least not until death. Once we die, if there is life after death and I believe there is, we will know for sure at that point. Until that time, we can only follow our way of thinking or believing and we should be respectful of others and the way they think.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should especially be loving and kind because Christ told us to love God and love one another. He did not say we should only love those who believe like us. He did not say to be judgmental, condemning or to exclude anyone.

When reading about Jesus in the gospels we see a person who loved people and was accepting of everyone. He did not condemn nor judge and I believe he was God in human form showing us that God loves us all.

I believe God provides grace for everyone, but he gives us all freedom to choose what to believe and whether to accept it or not. I believe we should offer the same option to our fellow human beings no matter what label is put on them.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Do you not give a damn how others feel or how your actions impact others? Color me God then. You are a wretched soul and your behaviors disgust me. I doubt though that is you because you wouldn’t be reading a spiritual blog. Church folks are familiar with hymns that describes us humans as “filthy rags” in the eyes of God. Does God really view us as evil from birth and has to put on Jesus-colored glasses to even look at us?

Does the Bible really claim God is pissed and views you as scum?

Some of us were taught at church that a loving God thinks we are sinners from the day we were born (Doctrine of Original Sin). See here.  Such a view could only come from a book such as the Bible. Anyone can point to verses to defend their view of God. Google to find verses that describes God a wrathful and revengeful God. But I could point to Isaiah 54:10: “…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Jesus says He judges no one. (Jn. 8:15). This doesn’t sound like a “pissed” Jesus. I am convinced a loving God can only love how an earthly parent ought to love their child.

Did God create us to be better lovers than God? 

It is only intuitive a Creator loves how their creations ought to love one another. Even the Bible implies perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). If I discover my child is bullying someone at school, I detest the behavior not them. If we find out our kid is using drugs, do we hate them or what the drugs are doing to them? I don’t sense the Bible as a whole describes God as loving us but we don’t really deserve it. God, like human parents hates unloving actions.

Views of God shape our attitudes toward God toward others 

If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may stop going to God when failing. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. Our image of God can dictate our actions. If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God punishes us forever (Hell) for sins briefly while here on earth, aren’t we teaching others to fear God rather than experience God relationally like they would a human parent?  I am not convinced such a Hell is biblical. See here. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others. You may be right!

Is God Pissed At You For Being A Sinner?

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Michael Donahoe

We seem to see more and more Christian people taking up political action causes. It seems politics and the church are becoming more involved together, and the separation of church and state is slowly disappearing.

There is nothing wrong with being involved politically. Yet, politics is not the most important piece of the puzzle. Political action usually only ends up in division and the arguing of one party against the other.

Jesus was not into political action. He said his Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more into social action.

Jesus talked a lot about: feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, the widows and the orphans, welcoming the stranger, and visiting those in prison. He talked about loving God and loving one another, even our enemies. Social action can be done apart from political action, and it will bring more meaningful results than any political action.

Of course, social action is not a requirement for salvation. That is by grace. As a result of our love for God and for humanity, social action and doing good works to others is a natural by-product.

Political action is more of a power struggle. It is forcing actions and ways of life on people by rules, laws and legislation. It can easily become divisive, exclusive and discriminatory.

Social action is a way of helping people live a more comfortable life. It provides ways to improve the lives of those who need help. It is a way of showing the love for people that Jesus talked about and expressed.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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by Jim Gordon

With all the changes happening in Christianity these days, such as Christian Nationalism, exclusion of those who are LGBTQ, seeing the separation of church and state slowly disappear, and those in the church seemingly becoming more hateful toward those who believe differently, my wife and I question whether we should still call ourselves Christian or not. Basically, it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

If being a Christian is being part of a religion that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on what denomination we belong to, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other religions and only accepts those who believe like we do, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with excluding those who are LGBTQ, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with treating women unequally, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with discrimination and segregation, then no, we are not Christians.

Actions that do not show the love, acceptance and good works that Jesus showed while on earth are not part of a Christianity we want to be associated with.

In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. They were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian, then we are all in.

There are many ways we can describe ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, people of faith, Christians. Yet, the name itself does not really matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, being called a Christian means nothing, and may actually be damaging to others.

When people see us, they should see Christ. He lives within us by the Spirit. We really do not need to worry so much about the label we use. We are to be known by our actions that show the love of God and share that love with our fellow man each and every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Michael Donahoe

Growing up in church and the Christian world, I always felt I had some fairly important facts figured out about God. I always thought that what I was taught in church was the absolute truth and complete facts because, after all, the pastor was called by God and the pastor should know everything. Where God lived. Where I would go when I die.

Yet, as time goes by and I become more open to actually questioning some of what I was told in church, I have come to think of some of these things a little differently.

We are taught that the house of God was the church where we went to worship and learn about God. We were told that God was a man sitting on a throne somewhere out there in what we call heaven. We were told when we die, we would go to heaven to live with God forever.

I think we are missing some important truths in regard to these matters. We as Christians often take what we were told in church and think it is fact. We will fight and defend our views when people disagree, yet we really have no actual proof of some of the things we so quickly defend.

As I read more and think about things, it is clear we are missing some very important topics Jesus talked about. He said the Kingdom of God is within us, he said he was sending another comforter who would teach us and guide us. He said that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. We tend to skip over these statements and continue to look to outward expressions of where God lives and what life after death will be like.

I think we are missing the fact that God is not somewhere out there, sitting on a throne. God does not show up now and then in a building that we call church. God is spirit and God is not a man or woman with a physical body. Although God does have male and female attributes, God is neither. We need to remember the customs and ways of life during the time the bible was being written. Men were in charge and women were usually considered property. The writers would naturally use male terminology for the God they were writing about.

As spirit, God does not live in a specific physical place. We are the closest thing because we are the dwelling place of the Spirit, yet God is everywhere. Physically speaking, we are God’s body, hands and feet on this earth. We know God is with us because God said we would never be left alone or forsaken by God.

Again, we seem to be so sure of the things we know about God and the afterlife, yet we really have no proof. It is all by faith, and many of it is our personal interpretations of bible verses or which pastor we listened to and followed. Rather than take a stand and argue with people about things we really do not know for sure, accept the fact that others have different views and opinions and there is no need to fight and argue over things we really do not know as facts.

There is nothing wrong with saying we do not know, there is nothing wrong with uncertainty. There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts. God is able to handle them all. We take by faith that God has what is best for us planned. We take by faith that there is a spirit world and we will be with God once we leave this earth. Take comfort in those thoughts, but also do not force your beliefs on others. Allow them the freedom to make up their own mind and follow what they believe.

God has given us free will to choose for ourselves who we will serve and what we will believe. Let us remember to do the same for our fellow human beings. The only thing Jesus told us to do was to love God and love one another.

Let me close with a few words by my friend, Chris Kratzer on the matter:

“If we search for God’s heart in the Scriptures, we open up a world of personal opinion, conjecture, and unresolvable debate.

If we search for God’s heart in the annals of Christianity history, we open up a trail of inconsistency, human fallibility, and religious conquest.

If we search for God’s heart in church, we open up a door into unending interpretations, conditional relationships, and spiritual franchising.

Yet, if we search for God within us, we find Her mind, we find our rest, we find ourselves, and we find our purpose.

We cannot know God outside of ourselves until we discover Her within ourselves”.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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