A letter to my Pastor

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#61  Postby John Platko » Sep 16, 2015 5:02 am

The_Metatron wrote:
John Platko wrote:
The_Metatron wrote:Still don't buy it. You write ambiguously when it suits you. You possess the ability to be clear, but choose not to be so.

:scratch: I think there's a compliment in there somewhere. Thank you!

There wasn't.


You possess the ability to be clear, but choose not to be so.


Compared to a lot of comments I get around here, that first part sounds like down right praise.





John Platko wrote:
No worries, John Platko, we all know why. It leaves lots of weasel room.

What exactly do you find ambiguous or unclear about:

You might find it helpful to check out how Thomas Jefferson dealt with the Bible - he considered himself a Christian.

Surely at this point in the thread you understand that it is a fact that Thomas Jeffereson considered himself a Christian- right?
He left no weasel room about that fact.

He wasn't the one who wrote in weasel terms, was he? He went on to explain exactly what he meant when he said that. You, on the other hand, found it useful to omit that explanation.


I omitted just about everything Jefferson said about his views on being a Christian. My suggestion was for self exploration on the matter- which is easy to do these days. The most basic Wiki check will describe his view in more detail.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, commonly referred to as the Jefferson Bible, was a book constructed by Thomas Jefferson in the later years of his life by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson's condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels which contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages indicating Jesus was divine.[1][2][3][4]


We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.



Jefferson's concept of Christianity bears a great deal of resemblance to my Christianity. He pruned a bit much for my taste but I have the benefit of modern psychology to help me understand possible explanations for some of the content and perhaps the benefit of Catholic ritual which gives the experience of -- well I'll just call it, Derren Brown like induced states which help one understand what people mean by "spiritual experience". But I'm good with the Jefferson Bible as he left it. I imagine most people would be better off just reading that instead of the real Bible.

But the truth remains that Jefferson considered himself a real Christian. He wrote:

I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.


And Jefferson's views and approach to Christianity is not so far from some modern Christians. For example.

I like to imagine ...
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#62  Postby Agrippina » Sep 16, 2015 7:21 am

Zadocfish2 wrote:I will say, though, that my father ended up giving me a much better explanation of my issues than my pastor did.


It's good that you can discuss this with your father. :thumbup:
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#63  Postby NamelessFaceless » Sep 16, 2015 2:15 pm

Zadocfish2 wrote:I will say, though, that my father ended up giving me a much better explanation of my issues than my pastor did.


Are you comfortable sharing some of his explanations?
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#64  Postby Zadocfish2 » Sep 17, 2015 7:34 am

Sort of. It's all about spirituality, Christian discipleship, and faith. A lot of it had to do with the relevance of personal experience to faith. A lot of it also had to do with understanding the Bible in realistic terms... I doubt you guys would find the discussion that interesting. I doubt I would remember enough of it, at that.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#65  Postby this-gospel » Nov 27, 2015 6:23 am

Zadocfish2 wrote:This place has filled me with questions, and I'm not quite satisfied until I get some answers. Luckily, I have one of the kindest men I have ever met to rely on here. He is my pastor, and before you can say anything, he is a very good person, and not just because he is my pastor. I hoped to field my questions to him. Here is a transcript of my message to him (names removed to protect his and my identities):

---

Hey, (Pastor). This is (me), the (great-grandparents) great-grandson.

I know you're busy and it might either go unanswered or take a while, but I just had to contact you at some point. I'm sort of going through a crisis of the Faith at current. I've been doing a probably-unhealthy amount of thinking lately, mostly about Christianity in general. I had some questions, and you're among the wisest, most articulate Christians I know. I figured if anyone would have the answers, you would.

It's been seeming more and more to me that the atheists have really, really cutting points. I'm not sure where to start, but I guess my first question is... why does it seem so much like the Bible makes more sense in the context of mythology than a record of fact?

What I mean is, I look at it and I start to see a religion made by bronze-age authors with bronze-age values and a God focused primarily on war as well as purity, and requiring blood sacrifices for appeasement. After Genesis, the Bible focuses a lot of time on war, and those are the times when the people most need to believe in a God... and the same with the laws, drafting a law system around an idea of a deity holds more weight with the public.

Christianity, a MUCH less bloody belief system, arose during a time that was already in the midst of a moral/social revolution, where the ideas of individual worth and love were getting more popular in society... could it be a coincidence that the old Hebrew religion was reinvented with a kinder bent during such a time?

The worst part is the logic. That is to say, however I look at it, Christianity fits every definition and sign of a cult at its root... It tells you to distance yourself from family or friends that are unbelievers except to try to convert them, and make your general company include mostly fellow believers. It tells you that any doubt you feel towards it is the fault of an external entity rather than your own credulity, driving Christians to put any such thoughts as far from them as possible and not think about it, ever. It tells you that you must accept it on faith, and makes its claims impossible to substantiate, meaning that you must either accept it or reject it based on the charisma of the preacher or your own fear of punishment.

Well, more than that, I'm concerned about the morals of the Faith. The more I look at it, the more it seems like our ideas of good and evil is... incongruous. The God of the Old Testament is, well... I don't want to blaspheme, but it's hard not to see the God of the Old Testament as... evil. Like, if any human being showed similar character traits, we would file Him with Hitler and his ilk. He ordered the genocide of thousands and thousands so His people could have the land He promised them, killing the men, women and innocent children (except occasionally the women, who He gave as "loot" to His people). He relegated even those who joined the Israelites to second-class citizens, with some exceptions, and those who were half-blooded weren't even allowed to join the Assembly of His people. That sounds a lot more like human edicts with human motivations to me...

But all in all, the thing that weighs me down most is the definition of "Love". It's so different from the love we know today, wanting the best for somebody. God gave His son on the cross for our sins, we know. But then I think about what that MEANS. A sacrifice from Jesus was temporary, since He came back to life in three days; Christ suffered death for a long weekend. Then, He joined His father for eternity. In what way is that a sacrifice? Suffering pain and finally death for about a week, and then right back to Glory?

But no, it's what that Sacrifice gains us that disturbs me. Our reward is slavery to God, now and for eternity. I know we're supposed to consider that a good thing, but how is slavery good? We're said to be free from sin... sin that we were born into through no fault of our own, and freed into the custody of God, who wants us to serve and worship Him for eternity and the refusal of this "freedom" means eternal suffering. We are destined for punishment for the heinous crime of being born with a pulse, freed with a sacrifice that could only be described as an inconvenience for the One who was sacrificed, and forgiven our debt of sin (that is, being born) so we can enter a life of eternal servitude.

I think about that a lot now. All humans are born to either serve and give up our own desires, or suffer horribly for all eternity. How is that free choice? How is that "love," to be created in God's image to give ourselves up for eternity or spend it in pain? God's "love", if the Bible is true, is self-serving and conditional at best. We are tools for His worship, and refusal of that call is equal to eternal pain. Why give us free will, if the only possible outcome of non-standard choices is punishment? Why, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, would He choose to make us in a way He knew would lead to disobedience and milleniums of death and hell? Making us in a way such that we could be separated from Him for eternity for choosing to live life as presented to us in this life?

Moreover, why is the deciding factor of whether we live or die eternally whether or not we accept a Book with absolutely nothing other than its own existence supporting its truth? That means that anyone who believes only in what they see in the world God created will be eternally punished. How is that love? Maybe the definition of love has changed dramatically?

The thing is, when I look at the above, I see a very good reason for it: the God in question being formed by generations of people with different ideas about Him writing things down as they believed it. Men who thought that their own thoughts and feelings were actually messages from the God they were told to believe in from birth; men who were indoctrinated early and told not to seriously think about it, lest they commit blasphemy. I see... a religion formed over time, and over different time periods. A religion made by man, looking for an explanation of the world and its contents without a way to properly process it. I see people living their lives and sacrificing themselves for a belief they hold dearly and deeply within themselves... the same thing as in every other world religion that has ever existed, or ever will. I'm beginning to see just another religion.

And I'm afraid. Not because I fear losing my religion, but that knowing and seeing all that, I'll inevitably go back. That after this breath of rationality and objectivity, I'll just sink back into the fear and dread that cows me into physical and mental obedience and has done so since I was too young to think. Christianity doesn't give me comfort, because I recognize that it's just a fear mechanism. To many converts, it's a comfort, because it means that Jesus loves them and God cares for them. But that's often because they only pay attention to the parts of the Bible that gives them that comfort, rather than the thousands of texts talking about damnation and the necessity of absolute obedience to avoid it. Even in the NT, that's focused on; forgiveness is tied to repentance, and repentance to obedience.

And why not ignore the parts you don't like? The Bible, as I have read it, pulls in many mutually-exclusive directions; you have to pick one to focus on, and ignore the rest, otherwise it makes no sense (as one would expect from a religion made by many different sources). Read as a whole, it really seems just like any other religion.

I recognize the feeling that pulls me back into it, even realizing hundreds of little quibbles. It's the fact that I've been with it since the day I learned what words mean. I'm not in it because I believe it with all my heart, I'm in it because I was taught it and had it drilled through my skull since birth. I recognize the insecurity I feel without it, and it's very similar to Stockholm Syndrome.

I know this feeling will fade if I go back to Church and if I connect with other Christians more often... But that isn't a good thing. It means I'm only a Christian if I throw away logic and rationality to fit in with the people I love. And after a while, I will again grow numb to complaints... just the way I was taught. It's brainwashing. I

I'm still a loving person without my Christianity. I'm the same man. I don't love people because the Bible tells me to, I love people because I love people. I don't love nature because it's God's creation, I love nature because I love nature.

(Pastor), I'm sorry to burden you with all this, though I'm aware that your schedule means you likely won't be able to read it. If anyone can answer my questions, it is likely you. If nothing else, I thank you for giving someone I can confess all of these doubts to. That means a lot to me.

Thank you.

---

Hopefully, his reply if it comes will be a good chance to un-do some misunderstandings myself and the board members here may have about Christianity.


You are a Christian? So was Judas.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#66  Postby Ironclad » Nov 27, 2015 10:18 am

Judas saved humanity, he was a necessary part of God's plan and therefore needs to be revered, not mocked.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#67  Postby Animavore » Nov 27, 2015 12:07 pm

I thought Judas, and Jesus, were Jews.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#68  Postby Zadocfish2 » Jan 03, 2016 8:39 am

And the cycle of belief and doubt continues to this day, as usual... Whenever I really sit down and think of the similarities between Christianity and your average cult, I end up burnt-out and disgusted.

Well, I'll probably get over it again.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#69  Postby SafeAsMilk » Jan 03, 2016 9:16 am

What keeps drawing you back?
"They call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -- George Carlin
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#70  Postby Zadocfish2 » Jan 03, 2016 1:45 pm

Same thing as usual, fear of eternal reprisal and adherence to tradition. Also fear of the unknown, too, I suppose.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#71  Postby Coastal » Jan 04, 2016 7:27 am

Fear is not a good basis to build any relationship on.
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Re: A letter to my Pastor

#72  Postby Coastal » Jan 04, 2016 3:25 pm

In fact, fear is the antithesis of a healthy psyche and a happy life. Guilt is pretty close, but fear takes the prize.
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