16 Reasons Why I am Not a Christian

why

Eight years of answering questions about  WHY I stopped believing in the existence of God and some readers still can’t understand why I am no longer a Christian. I even wrote two posts answering the WHY question, Why I Stopped Believing and Please Help Me Understand Why You Stopped Believing. The former was written for a obstinate Christian commenter and the latter was written for a former parishioner, who later unfriended me on Facebook because she found my story so troubling.

What follows are 16 reasons WHY I am not a Christian. There are many more reasons than this, but this list should satisfy those who continue to prod and poke, trying to find the REAL reason(s) I am no longer a Christian.

  1. I no longer think the Bible is a God inspired text
  2. I no longer think the Bible is an inerrant text
  3. I no longer think Jesus is God
  4. I no longer think Jesus was virgin-born
  5. I no longer think Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, or raised the dead
  6. I no longer think Jesus resurrected from the dead
  7. I no longer think there is a heaven or a hell
  8. I think the belief that God will torture all non-Christians in hell for all eternity is repugnant, abhorrent, revolting, repulsive, repellent, disgusting, offensive, objectionable, cringeworthy, vile, foul, nasty, loathsome, sickening, nauseating, hateful, detestable, execrable, abominable, monstrous, appalling, insufferable, intolerable, unacceptable, contemptible, unsavory, and unpalatable.
  9. I think the Bible shows a progression of belief from polytheism to monotheism
  10. I think the Bible teaches multiple plans of salvation
  11. I think much of the history found in the Bible is fictional
  12. I think the Bible God is an abhorrent, vile deity, one I would not worship even if I believed it existed
  13. I think science best explains the natural world
  14. I no longer think humans are sinners
  15. I think humanism provides a moral and ethical basis for life
  16. I see no evidence for the existence of the Christian God, thus I am an atheist

These reasons are based on a lifetime spent studying the Bible and studying the textual, historical, and moral underpinnings of Christianity. These studies led me to conclude that the Christian God is a fiction.

If I had any doubt about these things, eight years of interacting with Christians on this blog have led me to conclude that Christianity, as currently practiced in the West, is bankrupt. I see nothing in Christianity that would cause me to reconsider my rejection of the Christian God.

While I have many online friends who are a liberal/progressive Christian, I can not intellectually embrace their beliefs. Since none of them thinks I’m headed for hell when I die, I hope they understand why I can not embrace their faith.

I refuse to let others control my storyline. It’s my life and who knows it better than I do? All I know to do is tell my story. Each reader is free to accept or reject what I write.

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85 Comments

  1. Karen the rock whisperer

    Hi Bruce, same “Karen” who’s been commenting here, but I’m making my name consistent across the many websites that I visit.

    So, regarding #8 and #12 — are you SURE you’re not holding back here? Tell us how you really feel! 🙂

    Regarding #16, I almost agree with you; I don’t see evidence for the existence of any gods, let alone the Christian God. I suspect you meant to imply that, but it is worth stating. Just saying you don’t believe in the Christian God might mean you’re a Deist, and maybe susceptible to being led back to the True Faith (TM) that you once professed (or that you only thought you professed, because you didn’t go to the True Church (TM)). Oh, you explicitly said atheist, but a Good Christian ought to be able to talk you out of that if there’s any shred of belief in any supernatural being…

    Okay, I’m in a snarky mood today. I had to go back to those posts you linked to in the first paragraph, and read the comments; not good for my equilibrium on top of the usual flood of Ignorant People Are Ignorant social media news. Sigh.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yes, I am atheistic towards all known gods, agnostic towards unknown gods. I can only weigh the evidence as it is made available. So far, if there is a god, she has a huge PR problem. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        I’ve come to the conclusion that agnostic and atheist are pretty well the same thing. At one time I held the view that there was no such thing as an atheist, only varying levels of agnostic. Now I’m of the opinion that an agnostic saying ‘I’m not sure, I’m waiting for evidence’ is no different to ‘I don’t believe because there’s not enough evidence’. The atheist is a considered opinion that would change if evidence emerged to refute it; not that I’m holding my breath!

        Reply
        1. August Rode

          Geoff, theism/atheism have to do with belief but gnosticism/agnosticism have to do with knowledge. I consider myself an agnostic atheist with respect to all gods; I don’t know if any exist or not but I certainly don’t believe they do.

          Reply
      2. Dale M.

        I’m not sure it’s a PR problem. What would any super advanced civilization/ entity have to say to us in the 1st place ? … “BOOOOOOOOO !!!” … and that would be the end of planet of the apes.

        Reply
  2. Van

    Can you elaborate on number 9? When you say polytheism, are you just referring to the trinity, or something else?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Hey Van,

      When an Evangelical reads Genesis 1-3 with its plural pronouns they read trinitarian theology into the text. Would someone not initiated in trinitarianism come to the same conclusion? I don’t think so. I think the plural pronouns reference multiple gods.

      Robert Wright’s book, The Evolution of God, is s good read on this subject

      http://www.evolutionofgod.net/

      I do plan to write a post on this.

      Reply
      1. Karen the rock whisperer

        I read a book by Karen Armstrong several years ago (can’t remember the title), where she discusses the evolution of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Armstrong is on fairly solid ground when she’d dealing with historic texts, and it makes for a fascinating read. I will check out Robert Wright’s book.

        Reply
      2. Van

        Gotcha. Thanks.

        Reply
  3. David Devaul

    One thing I can agree with through out your post: “I no longer think…”

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thank you. I bet you had to do a lot of thinking to come up with this astute observation.

      Reply
    2. Brian

      @David Devaul, your comment may be a dull stab at sarcasm 😉 but it makes me think of the role of thought in faith. There seems to be connection between thought and feelings in those of us who admit to being human. The less feeling revealed on the outside, the less feeling that gets out into the world through our expression, the more thought/intellect must prevail. They are not mutually exclusive as world religions are and they exist in a complimentary fashion in and through us, thoughts and feelings. So, when you suggest that the writer of this blog, Bruce the Almighty (Praise his holy fame) no longer ‘thinks’, you are correct, not entirely of course, or at least that is my suspicion. You are correct in the same way that a knife is still a knife even though its edge is gone!
      I think that when a person decides to adopt atheism, it is not all about thinking at all because we are not all about thinking, are we… It involves our feelings, our intuition that is a stew of these matters. It cooks its way along and finally a person realizes that their worldview has changed and that honest expression demands refusal instead of acceptance. I have observed that this is very much about feeling, human feeling and not simply thought or lack of it. I felt the contradictions before I could express them in reasonable thoughts but as I allowed my feelings, my thoughts became less troubled in faith and in lack of it. Belief is a feeling, heavily weighted in feelings and this is perhaps why so many people study scriptures day and night: We play Sisyphus endlessly until our feelings and thoughts can be at peace with one another. That peace is in atheism for me, the old-man son of a Baptist preacher. I do not feel the presence of the invisible and do not buy the story about God killing his boy for me. It seems to be that some people feel a similar way in belief of God, that they have found peace and meaning in it instead of what I found, lack of meaning and discord. That is just fine until they try to take over my town and when I protest and say, this is shared territory, they accuse me of being evil and a God-hater. I have survived the ‘love’ of God, freed myself from faith. Poor Jesus didn’t.

      Reply
  4. Kenneth

    I think you could elaborate even further than this, but I know that would be a very long list, much more than 16. But, I could see them ask WHY on each of those 16. Why don’t you “think the Bible is a God inspired text”?, for example. It seems common sense to an atheist but not a believer. I guess it depends on your target audience.

    Reply
  5. Dale M.

    The trinity thing sounds like an interesting up and coming post. Please do. Now. I’m going to add to your list of 16 with one more. Evangelicals believe that all biblical laws trump the laws of the U.S.A. [man’s or secular laws]. This one is especially interesting. What they are saying to the young of that nation is that it is O.K. to break the laws of the U.S. constitution. If their god didn’t make it … break it. They’re preparing children for criminal careers. The police in Glencoe who are responsible for upholding the law should no better. Are they no better than the petty criminals they pursue ?

    Reply
    1. Kenneth

      Well, they believe the US was founded on strictly Christian principles and beliefs. That is their justification for bending the law.

      Reply
  6. Andrew

    I watched an online course once about the Old Testament. The Professor went into detail explaining what scholars know about how polytheism evolved into monotheism in ancient Judaism. It was very interesting, I love learning about that sort of stuff 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dale M.

      Case in point Andrew. Always go to the original source … the Telmud [bible]. At least, as I understand it, they don’t insert new passages or slice out old passages that they deem as politically incorrect for their times UNLIKE the Christians and Muslims who seem to be constantly making it up as they go. The reason for this discrepancy is that the Jews actually DO believe that their original texts are the “word of God”. However, you do have some 20 Jewish sects who do get violent if their “interpretation” is questioned. Bruce … correct me if I’m wrong.

      Reply
      1. Andrew

        I may not be understanding you, but I don’t have the training or education to read the Bible in the original Hebrew or Greek. I have no choice but to trust what experts say. Of course, I’m not going to be gullible about it, I’m always skeptical of what I hear. The best thing to do, in my experience, is to read books written by conservative Christian scholars, then go read books by skeptical scholars, and come to your own decision about who you think has the better arguments.

        Reply
  7. Montjoie

    You are aware there are educated Christians who disagree with you about much of this, that it is not a majority Christian view that everything in the Bible is literally true, that “inerrancy” is not — in many Churches — a literalist doctrine, that many churches hold that hell is the choice of the unbeliever resulting only in separation from the source of life, etc etc etc. Are you aware of this? Because you list reads like you’re not. So if you’re interested you could explore the thinking of those whose beliefs are not the strawman you seem to attack.

    But the most interesting thing is your adoption of humanism. All humanists eventually end up at the “humanity is a plague” stage. So be careful.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I am aware of all of this. I am quite educated and conversant in the various streams of Christianity. That said, draw a line though every point you disagree with and you are still left with sufficient reasons for why I am not a Christian.

      Every Christian sect, to some degree or the other, appeals to the Bible. The essence of Christianity is faith in Jesus ; one who is God, forgives sins, and gives some or all of us eternal life. Where does one go to find out about this Jesus? The Bible.

      So, reduce the core beliefs down to whatever small list suits your fancy, but I still do not believe. Jesus was a man who lived and died, end of story.

      The focus of this blog is on Evangelicalism. You would have figured that out had you read more of my blog posts beside this one.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Bruce

      Reply
    2. Michael Mock

      “All humanists eventually end up at the ‘humanity is a plague’ stage.”

      Wait, weren’t you just complaining about straw men and unsupported assertions?

      …And it’s a good thing that the religiously-minded never look at the world that way. I mean, how could you trust a religion if one of its foundational stories presented humanity as so irredeemably horrible that really the only way to fix the situation was to kill off everyone on the planet? Well, except for one small family who escaped the disaster by hiding in a special shelter, but still… yeah, I’d want to be very careful of a set of beliefs like that.

      Reply
      1. sgl

        *drops mike*
        🙂

        Reply
    3. sgl

      re: “…it is not a majority Christian view that everything in the Bible is literally true, that “inerrancy” is not — in many Churches — a literalist doctrine, …”

      how many churches recite the apostle’s creed? that creed explicitly states they believe in the trinity, virgin birth, resurrection, etc. show us a large denomination church that has removed or change the creed because they no longer take it literally (eg, they remove “born of a virgin” because they no longer treat the virgin birth as literal). as best i can tell from the outside, it’s still the official dogma of most churches, even if many people within the church and within the church hierarchy don’t believe it literally.

      lastly, a large (and loud) number of christians *do* take it literally, and have a big influence on the politics of the usa. bruce and the rest of us aren’t complaining because the amish don’t believe in evolution — we don’t care. but the fundamentalist christian right has a large influence on politics here, and a large number of those officially and actually believe in biblical literalism. so it’s not a straw man argument at all.

      if you don’t like bruce’s argument, why to pick a bone with him, rather than all the fundamentalists out there? has your church put out a public statement refuting any of these literalist claims? (the only churches i’m aware of that don’t have such literal dogma are the UU and liberal quakers.) not buried in the fine print, or hemming and hawing when you ask a question of a paster; right there in bold print on the intro web site, that your church doesn’t take the virgin birth literally, but a metaphor for being pure? that the resurrection was not a literal physical resurrection, but a metaphorical spiritual resurrection? why don’t you start such an effort in your church? my guess is you’d be surprised the resistance you’d get, both within the church, and within the denomination, and from other churches. my bet is that dog don’t hunt. but go ahead, prove us wrong. prove that your church is enlightened and can’t be tarred with the literalist brush. methinks you doth protest too much.

      Reply
  8. Dale M.

    Montjoie ! Are you aware that Jesus was never, ever a Christian in any sense of the word ? A far more interesting idea [listening Bruce ?] would be to compile a list of reasons why no known Christian can be a follower of Jesus. True. Christians do use Him as an icon. But that doesn’t make one a follower. The hardest thing for ANY Christian to get around is that Jesus was 1st and foremost ethnically a Jew. He believed sincerely that ONLY THE JEWS were chosen to be saved. His faith was in Judaism … NOT Paul’s religion to which all Christians belong. Jesus’ life goal was to reform Judaism, take it back to the old testament’s Rabinical Laws = Shariah Laws. He saw in his day that His people [the jews] were slipping away from the old testament. He was a very proud and very unpopular individual. Jesus was especially emphatic that all his followers NEVER give up jewish traditions. He chose to be a rabbi and practised this by preaching in synagogues only. If one didn’t convert to Judaism, he instructed his disciples to brush them off as unworthy. His greatest hatred was reserved for the preisthood of the Pagans who worshipped on sundays. The jews worshipped only on the sabbith [saturday]. No Christian today would ever follow the real Jesus into a synagogue. The preisthood of the pagan empire continues to this day. Rome did not fall. That’s a fallacy. Rome was simply sacked and over run. Today, the heart of the empire is the Vatican. Rome is more powerful now than she has ever been. Caesar [Pope] won. Jesus and Judaism lost. If you think I’m wrong, you should read what Jesus has in store for all Christians. He promised that when he returned, the Jews would rule the planet and the gentiles would be under His septre [iron rod/ fist of steel]. These are just a few reasons why Bruce and others like myself find Jesus despicable. He’s just like us.

    Reply
    1. Montjoie

      Where the hell do you get any of that? Why do you think you know better what Jesus truly-ooly thought than the guys who travelled with him? Seriously dude. WTF

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Was Jesus a Jew? Where does the Bible say Jesus came to start a new religion? Does 21st century Christians follow the theology of Jesus or the theology of Paul?

        It can be argued that there are competing Christianities in the NT, at least three: Jesus, Paul, and James. If you think that the Bible teaches a singular, cohesive Christianity, you need to go back and do some reading. Such a belief requires certain presuppositions for it work. The same goes for a passage like Genesis 1-3. Christians take Trinitarian theology and read it back into the text, when in fact the text supports polytheism.

        Compare Paul’s theology to Jesus’s. Are they one and the same? Drop what you have been told, taught, or believe and just compare the two.

        Bruce

        Reply
        1. david

          1of2)
          I actually tried to provide (first comment on site) some biblical evidence as to what the bible indicates Jesus attempted to turn the people toward, and got thrown to your comment rules page (which includes quoting bible verses as resulting in an unacceptable comment.)

          Not sure if that was because of first time comment, or because of auto review looking for verse references…

          If the first, then perhaps you will still pass it, if the second its sort of hard to take up your invitation, if you don’t allow what you’ve invited – whether automated or manually reviewed.

          2of2)
          Can you produce a precis of the bible in less than one page, maybe even one or two short paragraphs?

          What would your version of such a precis show the bible as teaching?

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            All first time comments are moderated. As I mentioned in my previous post, I prefer discussions that engage what I have written. Quoting a bunch of verses is rarely helpful. The Bible is unique in the sense that it can be made to say or prove almost anything. Since the text is a totally human construct, it should come as no surprise that it is littered with internal consistencies and contradictions. This is why there are thousands of Christian sects, each believing that their interpretation of the text is correct.

            If there is some specific aspect of the post you would like to discuss, I’d be glad to do so.

    2. david

      (Bruce take note – you invited biblical evidence.)
      Dale, I see your comments as not all lining up with all of the bible narrative, and other probable realities, so attempting to provide material biblical and life evidence contrary to some of your statements…

      “believed sincerely that ONLY THE JEWS were chosen to be saved.”
      Then who were the other sheep, ‘not of this fold’, that he is reported to have spoken of seeking (Jn 10:16)?

      “Jesus was especially emphatic that all his followers NEVER give up jewish traditions”
      Seems rather to have condemned some of the Jewish traditions according to Mt 15:3-6.

      “preaching in synagogues only.”
      While he apparently started there (“as was his custom”) it appears he quickly became unwelcome at least in some of them(Lk 4:16-29), and definitely preached outside of synagogues as well (Mt 13:2, Mk 3:9, Mk 4:1, Mk 5:21, Jn 6:22), (though he apparently taught in the temple regularly throughout his ministry).

      “If one didn’t convert to Judaism”
      The verses I recall only deal with receiving their teaching – Is there one that specifically mentions anything about conversion to Judaism? These were already Jews (children of Abraham by flesh? specifically house of Israel Mt 15:24,) they were speaking to, I thought, no conversion necessary by what I think the Hebrew traditional measure of Judaism has been (other than proselytes)…?

      “The jews worshipped only on the sabbith [saturday]. No Christian today would ever follow the real Jesus into a synagogue.”
      Not sure of your intent there, but I believe the 7th day adventists would have no problems worshipping on the sabbath, as that seems to be one of their major tenents – and I think they at least consider themselves to be Christians.

      ******”He’s just like us.”******
      If he has risen from the dead, then I sincerely doubt that he is just like us.

      -the following can be ignored, is mostly covering some probability of Jesus having risen from the dead, thus not being at all like us –

      ******But maybe that’s the real rub – did he rise from the dead?******
      As is attributed to Pilot, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38) in this matter?

      The bible certainly indicates that Jesus died and rose again. And writings of Paul state that if he didn’t rise from the dead, then the Christian faith was in vain (as there would have been no evidence of resurrection from the dead being possible.)

      People have a tendency to universally act on what they perceive as truth, in as far as reason is involved in the activities. If there are multiple truths in conflict, they tend to act according to one they perceive as more important, if such can be determined (whether by reason or emotion).

      It seems his early discples (the apostles) believed he did die and rise again, to the point of not denying him even to the point of their own deaths, and I think many others of “those who had seen” (Jn 20:29) certainly believed that he had died and risen from the dead, likewise not denying him to the point of their deaths.

      (slight aside – my understanding is that ISLAM in fact believes Jesus is to save them as well, but they do not believe he actually physically died, but was rescued from the cross before death, and (eventually) taken up to heaven without having died and risen [as is reported of both Enoch and Elijah], to return again eventually still to die.)

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        I see you ignored everything I wrote in my previous comment. This is why I have the commenting rules that I do.

        As an atheist, I certainly reject the notion that Jesus resurrected from the dead. He lived, he died, end of story. 2,000 years of human history shows one thing to be true: when people die they stay dead. Antonin Scalia dying and coming back to life three days later would certainly be newsworthy and widely reported. Yet, not one contemporary author writes one word about the common criminal Jesus coming back to life three days after his death. The same goes for the fantastical events — dead people coming out of their graves and walking the streets of Jerusalem — surrounding Jesus’ alleged resurrection. Reason leads me to conclude that Jesus was executed by the Roman government, end of story.

        Reply
  9. dale

    What are you talking about ??? All Jesus’ followers were Jews. This is not coming from me. This comes directly from the bible. Admittedly, there is no “Book of Jesus”. We do get our knowledge of Him 3rd person. It’s what THEY say. Not what I say. None of them ever converted to a new religion save Paul. Rome at the time of the council of Nicea was 10% jewish, 40% new Christian and 50% Pagan. The new Christians were from the Pagan cults. They had no concept of jewish traditions. Paul saw the writing on the wall. So did Caesar Constatine. If Christianity was to survive, it had to adopt Pagan rituals and traditions. Paul aided in bringing Jesus to the masses by throwing out what He taught and adopting Him as an icon of the new faith. And it worked … didn’t it !! That’s why no Christian today is Jewish. There is no excuse for this. When Jesus made His speech from the Mount, He was speaking solely to a Jewish crowd and those who converted to His religion. As I said … Christians today have such a twisted view of Jesus that they still find it difficult to accept Him for who He truly was and what He truly preached. Some of His preachings have been adopted by Christians, Muslims and even Buddhists alike. They all use Him as an icon, a prophet, a great teacher. To become a total desciple would require a conversion to His faith. Few would ever do that even today.

    Reply
    1. Montjoie

      Constantine and Paul working together, huh? No Jews became Christians, huh? I’m worry but you two are so badly informed it’s astonishing.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Sure, we are. Take Dale’s last comment. Please give evidence, any evidence that his statements are historically (or Biblically) incorrect? Again, I ask you to compare the theology/teachings of Jesus with those of Paul. Don’t try to harmonize them or make them fit the approved Christian narrative. Is the gospel Jesus preached the same gospel Paul or James preached? If you say yes, please show, from the Bible, how it is possible to come to this conclusion.

        Asserting we are badly misinformed doesn’t make it so. If you want to continue this discussion, please provide evidence for your objections.

        Bruce

        Reply
        1. James

          Hey Bruce,
          I’m trying to look at everything and come to the truth but I haven’t heard before that Jesus, Paul, and James all taught different gospels. Could you direct me to some specific passages that I can study for this? Thanks!

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            James,

            Here’s what I’d suggest

            1.) Read each book of the Bible as a stand alone book.
            2.) Don’t attempt to harmonize the text or make it fit any particular theological system
            3.) In the case of Jesus, James, Paul, and Peter, write down what they say about salvation, knowing God, etc and compare them.

            For example, James says faith without works is dead, yet Paul says faith (salvation) by works is no faith at all. In Galatians 2 there is a conflict between Paul and Peter over whether circumcision is required for salvation. In Acts 15, there is a council held to determine if salvation requires keeping the law and being circumcised. While the council answered NO, they did add several requirements such as abstaining from fornication, not eating meat offered to idols, etc. Yet, Jesus in Matthew 5 said that the law is still in force until heaven and earth pass away.

            If every author is allowed to have his own voice then it is clear that there are multiple plans (I don’t like this word, but it one easily understood by Evangelicals) of salvation.

            I plan to do some writing on this one of these years. 🙂

            Bruce

  10. Dale M.

    Hi Karen [Rock Whisperer]. Let me clarify slightly [at the risk of talking for somebody else]. What Bruce meant by # 16 was that atheists have no belief in any KNOWN gods = religious gods = scriptural gods = Cro-magnon god(s) = Paper Back god(s). Bruce is also an agnostic aththeist like the rest of us = belief in a possible advanced hyper civilizations that can accomplish anything any scriptural god could attain if they actually existed. We just don’t know how advanced any deep space civilization could be. The power that they would most likely weild would appear as pure magic to us. So. There are really 2 types of beleifs regarding the concept of god(s). There is the man made, earth bound scriptural concept studied in depth by arm chair archaeologists and highly motivated charlatans and a “scientific concept” which is strictly in the realm of astro and particle physicists. The “scientific concept” was advanced by astrophysicist A. Kardeshev in the 1960s. It has been expanded on since then. Hope that helps.

    Reply
  11. Carmen

    Hi Bruce,
    Loved your response above, to David; I laughed out loud and my little granddaughter asked me what was so funny. . . 🙂
    I’m also shaking my head at the lengths some people will go, to defend a popular myth.

    Reply
  12. Dale M.

    Montjoie. I do owe you one apology. I don’t have time to quote from the bible everything I talk about. It has taken me a few years of dedicated research and the construction of a massive web-site for ALL Christians. The site pre-empts the chatter of He said/ You said type of narrative. It is a startling test for ALL Christians to get involved in. I took exceptional pains to make sure that this web-site was NON-CRITICAL of Christians. What this site involves are verses from the old testament [O.T.] to the new testament [N.T.] that most disturb the secular world. To each verse, I give our translation. Then I give the Christian one. If one doesn’t agree with either, there is a 3rd option. So, this site will get everything out in the open for everybody. The site is complete to the best of my knowledge. It is set to music. The site is to determine your moral position on everything said in the bible. There is no win/ lose. It simply educates one on their real moral standing vis-a vis the bible. I also STRONGLY emphasize that NO Christian ebter this site without a BIBLE in hand. The bible won’t lie to you. I went through 25 different bibles and found the King James version the best to use. I also draw out the “10 commandments” in their entirety. Most Christians don’t realise that there are actually 640 commandments. About 140 are called “negative commandments” [thou shalt NOT do]. The rest are considered “positive commandments” [thou shalt DO]. Muslims and Christians abort these commandments because the O.T. god is instructing all TRUE believers to respect all aspects of Judaism to be saved. Jesus not only believed in these laws, He practised them. I stongly suspect that within 50 years the 10 commandments will be wittled down to about 2 relevant ones. The Catholics are leading. They’re now down to 9. Again, I understand you’re total disbelief in anything I say. Going through the entire bible is quite a grind. That’s why I did this. I chose the written word over that of any and all “pastoral interpretations”. Give me time to launch it. I hope this helps.

    Reply
    1. david

      re: Dale M comments –

      in spite of jot nor tittle comments,
      I thought, according to the bible…

      Jesus (has your churches beat 🙂 having), already whittled the commandments down to 2 as being generally all-encompassing (Mt 22:36-40,Mar 12:28-34), and then added a third new one (Jn 13:34,15:12), a slight modification of the 2nd one…?

      Although he did apparently think others would be observed in the course of following those 2-3, and following him (Mt 19:17-21,Mk 12:28-34,Luk 18:18-22).

      And that he didn’t completely practice the law as it was generally understood either (Jn 8:3-11) nor necessarily condemn those who in following the primary commandments, may have acceptable reason to break others ([Mt12:2-8,Mk 2:24-28,Lk 6:2-5],[Mt 12:10-12, Lk 6:6-10]).

      Nor did he seem to think all of the law was necessarily directly from God (Mt 19:3-9,Mk 10:4-9[12]), though he generally encouraged obedience to the chain of command (Mt 23:1-3), although his disciples apparently understood the possibility of rank exceptions (Act 5:29).

      Deut 18:15 records “The Lord thy God shall raise up to thee a prophet of thy brethren, like me; him shall ye hear”, and John reports Jesus to be that prophet (Jn 1:45,5:46), but the establishment of that time (and others) did not want to listen (Lk 16:29).

      And even the OT indicates the entirety of that law wasn’t necessarily what God desired (ps 51:17, Pr 21:3,Is 1:11-14,Is 66:1-3,Hos 6:6, Mic 6:7-8, Mt 9:13,Rm 12:1-2), that He apparently had a hierarchy of preferences. In particular pursuit of justice/righteousness seemed to be important (1ki10:9,2ch9:8,psa82:3,jer22:3,Jer22:15,Jer23:5,[Mic 6:8],Job37:23,[Pro21:3],[Isa 1:17],Isa 56:1, Amo 6:12, Zep 3:5), presumably as an outgrowth of love required in the 2nd and his 3rd commandment, although it may be our (my?) understanding of those concepts is faulty,

      as Jesus NT concept of justice may not fully sync with our (my?) common understanding of it (Mt 23:35, Luk 11:51).

      FWIW.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Usually first time commenters are expected to actually engage the post they are reading rather than leaving a comment that has no connection to what was originally written 7 months ago. Regular readers of this blog are quite conversant on all things Bible. Verse quoting as you have done is discouraged. I am more interested in discussing what I have written. I’ll leave it to Dale to respond to you if he is so inclined.

        Reply
  13. david

    (Ok, I have a thought regarding what you wrote. Sorry, it just didn’t catch my attention first.)

    #16 seems like it really is the crux of your list.

    Curious, is there any sort of evidence that you would consider as being indicative of something/someone/somebeing being a God, Christian or otherwise, or even a god?

    Anything that would motivate you to serve (though not necessarily as a pastor) a G/g-od [as you apparently previously did for 25 years, on the basis of what you originally thought to be truth (inerrant bible), but then found it not to be (observed conflicts)]?

    Or at least worthy of re-examining your current position of there being no God (Christian or otherwise)?

    As I indicated elsewhere, perceived truth is a motivator of actions for everyone. (I think that is a truth :), but if you see differently I’ll read.)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      It is not about perception, it is about facts. A claim of inerrancy requires a perfect text. As Bart Ehrman had repeatedly shown in his bestselling books, the Bible is a flawed, errant, and internally contradictory book. If you have not read any of his books, I encourage you to do so.

      Reply
  14. dale

    David. You raised a very interesting question here. What atheism for us really means is that we are led by faith, feeling, subjective thoughts BUT let facts as they are studied reign our faith in. We are not without faith. We allow our faith to be turned over on a dime. We are the most flexible when it comes to faith. Yes. We use it. We just don’t stand on it. We stand on scientific fact. You may be surprised to know that atheists don’t necessarily reject the concept of “god(s)” or even an “afterlife”. Not even Christopher Hitchens rejected that possibility. We have however, totally rejected the concept of man-made “knowable” god(s). Pay attention to the people that study actual Nature and the actual Cosmos. No religious leader does. They don’t know enough. Their attention is on the gods of literature. Holy books are their pretend cosmos … not the real deal. It’s safe to ignore them. If and when we discover the real god(s), let me more than assure you, they will be nothing like our petty literature gods. We still won’t worship them BUT we will greatly respect their power AND if
    benevolent probably honor the grace that they would “hopefully” bestow upon us. Until then, try not looking down into holy books. Try looking up into the real cosmos and paying some respect to the scientific method. It has ALWAYS worked. It has NEVER failed us. Again … we are still too primitive a civilization to ask the really big questions AND expect a definitive answer. Contributing to science will get us there faster. It doesn’t belay the fear of death but really … what choice do we have ?? We just gotta push on. Science IS the right path. Its given us everything we have today. It does have a proven track record that you can actually point to. Hope that adds to the blog.

    Reply
  15. Michael Mock

    It might also help to understand that atheism isn’t really a worldview in itself. It’s an element of various worldviews (or maybe “result” is a better word), but by itself all it really says is, “I don’t see any indication of one or more gods being active in the world.” It doesn’t say anything about what we do see. It’s a conclusion, not a starting point.

    I myself am better classified as an experiential materialist, for example. I’m an atheist as well, but my atheism is a result — almost a side-effect — of a materialist outlook.

    Reply
  16. MWH

    “I think the Bible God is an abhorrent, vile deity, one I would not worship even if I believed it existed.”

    It appears to me that this is the crux of every atheist’s argument — except for those who feel too insecure to admit emotion as the driving force of their beliefs.

    Whenever someone says this, I always worry he will become what he hates. I suppose the fear cuts both ways. But people of conflicting morals can peacefully coexist as long as they are committed to keeping the peace.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      No, it is NOT the crux of this atheist ‘s argument, nor is it for most of the atheists I personally know. While emotions certainly play a part, at the end of the day (for me anyway), the claims Christians make concerning their God, Jesus, and the Bible cannot be rationally supported. This is why you appealed to faith in your other comment.

      For me, when I came to understand that the Bible was not an inspired, inerrant, infallible text, it was then quite easy for me to dismiss the claims Christians make for Jesus — his resurrection, miracles, to name two.

      Reply
      1. MWH

        Yet you said the Biblical God is too abominable for you to worship, regardless of evidence. How can anyone say this and think his decision is mainly intellectual? I am sure you realize that faith is about trusting God — not simply acknowledging God’s existence.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          It is an intellectual observation based on what the Bible says about the Christian God. Based on what the Bible says about this God, I would not worship him even if there was evidence for his existence. The good news is that this God is the mythical fabrication of Bronze Age tribal sheep herders and uneducated, illiterate first century fishermen.

          Reply
          1. MWH

            Intellect and education have nothing to do with compassion. I am sure you know that.

          2. Geoff

            “Intellect and education have nothing to do with compassion. I am sure you know that.”

            That’s largely a non sequitur. Compassion is an evolutionary developed trait, though it’s taken intellect and education to understand this.

            One thing that is certainly true is that, to a large extent, the Christian faith stifles compassion.

          3. MWH

            What I mean is — people with a Ph.D. and a genius intelligence can be perfectly cruel, if they want to be.

          4. Michael Mock

            MWH – Oh, now I see the connection you were making. Thanks for clarifying.

            As far as your earlier question (“How can anyone say this and think his decision is mainly intellectual?”) I’d suggest that the answer is simply that, for most people, the intellectual conclusion that God doesn’t exist comes before the re-evaluation of God’s character as presented in the stories about Him.

          5. MWH

            As for me, I suspect both the intellectual and emotional conclusions happen at the same time. The notion of the heart and mind working separately and independently sounds foreign to my experience with human nature.

          6. Geoff

            The intellectual and emotional responses are both neural generated in the brain, and are interconnected. ‘Heart’ is merely a figure of speech, and to be fair I don’t think you really mean otherwise.

    2. Michael Mock

      I’m just going to second Bruce’s comment. This is a common criticism from atheists, yes, but it is not the crux of most (let alone every) atheist’s argument.

      I’m not a Christian because, in a fundamental way, Christianity doesn’t make sense to me. The way it describes the world doesn’t match the world I see around me. What is says about people doesn’t match my experience of people, or a lot of the research that has been done about how people actually work (for lack of a better word). And its metaphysical claims frequently appear to make no sense even when taken on their own terms.

      But I’m not an atheist because “chose” atheism, or because I “rejected” Christianity (or God or Jesus, if you want to put it in those terms). What I am, primarily, is a materialist; my atheism is a direct outgrowth, almost a side-effect, of that.

      Reply
  17. tChick

    I just read your 16 reasons for leaving Christianity. It made me sad because I do believe that putting ones trust in Jesus is the only way to eternity. Jesus will reveal the truth to you if you ask him. Ask him to reveal himself to you if you sincerely believe all the reasons you wrote. I’ve read some post too and just wanted to be very clear that God does not send people to hell. People choose to go to hell by not accepting salvation. I will not try to convince you but I would like you to look at the link below and consider the content.

    Link removed

    Even if you do not wish to respond to what I have just said or checked the content of the link above, pls kindly answer this for me:

    What if you die, you find you were wrong?
    what if you find that Jesus (the true Jesus of course not the religous/perverted Jesus) is the true God and you simply refused to accept his offer of eternal life? What will you do?

    Respectfully yours.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Powell

      How nicely condescending of you, your making the claim now that none of us here sincerely asked god to reveal himself to us, and put our trust in jesus. I know I did that, and from everything I’ve read of Bruce’s story he did that and more.

      We can play that game too, what if you die and find out that the muslim’s were right and now you don’t get your virgins? Or that the buddhist were right and you reincarnate into an animal because you didn’t achieve nirvana? Or even a different christian sect was right who says your sect where not real true christians and now you are going to hell? There are 10’s of thousands of different religions and branch’s of those religions each claiming that they have the one true path, the one correct way.

      For me:
      1) I will say hmm, I was wrong, too bad there wasn’t any evidence to support this god’s claims
      2) I didn’t refuse to accept his offer, I was a christian for 35 years, I realized there was no evidence for the claims I was making, nothing backing up what I believed except my desire for it to be true. I had no choice at that point, I just didn’t believe. I layed on hands, I fell out in the spirit, I spoke in tongues, I prophesied. I accepted the offer I thought I was given, then realized there was no evidence that an offer was even on the table. So if it turns out that Jesus is god, then the blame is on him for not making their undeniable evidence that the offer was real, and the claims were true.

      Reply
      1. MWH

        According to the Bible, those who don’t like what God stands for tend to reject even the most incontrovertible evidence. For those who leave the faith, I believe the story always ends with some rejection of God’s morals. As for the “fires of Hell”, I have concluded that the Old Testament is surprisingly lacking in fire-and-brimstone imagery. In the New Testament, what sounds like a graphical description of Hell actually seems to be symbolism lifted from symbols in the Old Testament.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          You say : “the story always ends with some rejection of God’s morals.”

          Bruce says: *sigh* (Greek for the bullshit from Christians never ends)

          Reply
        2. Chris

          So you responded to my comment but then spouted nothing that matched anything I posted. I liked what Jesus stood for, I liked what I believed god stood for, then I realized that there was no evidence for the things I believed to be true. I then went on a search for the evidence and all I found was double talk, obfuscation, and lies.
          But I realize your just going to ignore this because I am sure you and the original comment I commented on were only drive by evangelist not really caring to have a dialog or to provide evidenced answers. No all you cared about was spouting a well rehearsed nothing.

          Reply
          1. MWH

            If you no longer care for what God stands for, then there is no point offering any evidence. That is the point. You say, “all I found was double talk, obfuscation, and lies”. Why should I expect this to be an honest testimony from you, if your worldview gives you no absolute reason to be honest? We cannot have a dialogue if there is no trust between us.

          2. MWH

            (In the first five books of the Bible, I can find no mention of being burned alive forever. That is my biggest clue that the “fires of Hell” are a symbol of exaggeration. Just compare Isaiah 66:24 with Mark 9:43–44, along with Isaiah 34:6–1. I gave a link to an essay about fire as an established symbol of judgment, but that wasn’t allowed.)

          3. Chris

            And ignore what i said is the answer for $500.
            I never said that I no longer care for what god stands for. And I don’t have a problem with the concept of hell if there is a god, in fact I can understand the idea of hell, at least the separation from god, or the dissolution versions preached by different denominations. My biggest issue was the lack of evidence for the claims. And notice instead of presenting any evidence like you could have, instead you called into question my truthfulness. Pot calling the kettle black much. If you asked for the evidence for anything I claimed I could give you examples and how to test for the evidence as well, plus I could give you test that if they got certain results would falsify the claim I made. Can you do the same for your god hypothesis?

          4. MWH

            Again, as you said, “all I found was double talk, obfuscation, and lies”. If you presume that I am dishonest, then I have nothing useful to say for you. That is the message that I receive when you make comments like that.

          5. Chris

            Why would you presume I was thinking your lieing? i was talking about the research I did reading apologetics works, talking to pastors, and reading the New Testament in the original Greek using the textus receptus. The apologetics works would use double talk and obvuscation to make you think they made their point while leaving holes you could drive a Mack truck through (lee strobals works are notoriouse for this, see the multiple take downs on line). And then you have the banana man himself who has been told multiple times the evidence for why certain things he says are wrong, agrees on video and audio, but the next time he’s at it he’s repeating the same thing again as if he doesn’t know he agreed that he was wrong about it, what is that but lying?
            Then you have the pastors, all well meaning in their own ways, but each when asked the hard questions like evidential support just repeat things they heard from other pastors who heard it from other pastors (I can give examples if necessary), or repeat things from Mcdowells evidence that demands a verdict or lee strobals case for Christ. Both of which have many holes in their logic, and do not provided evidence, only attempts at logical arguments.

            But notice again, instead of giving me evidence that can be indepentenly verified and is falsifiable, instead you obfuscated like you’ve been doing and acted like I was calling you a lier to throw off the fact you still have not provided evidence.
            With Proper evidence it does not matter if the person giving it to you is lying or if they are mistaken on other things, either the evidential support is duplicatable by a third party and it’s falsifiable or it isn’t. There is a reason cold fusion was not accepted by the general scuentific community. It wasn’t duplicatable by anyone else.

          6. MWH

            Before the rise of Christianity, the world knew little about human rights. In the early days of Christianity, the faith spread despite the real possibility of painful death. Unlike Mohammed, the Apostles were not perpetrators of violence — but victims of violence. We know that the Christians did not make up the Old Testament, since a group called the Jews accepts the Old Testament but not the New. Christ warned Jerusalem that a foreign nation would destroy them for rejecting the Savior, and he warned his followers when to escape the scene. Christ said that Jerusalem was ripe for judgment, and the rise of Zealot-led Israel — followed by swift retribution by pagan Rome — corroborates his testimony about that generation.

            For God to have himself born as a man in order to relate to us — and for most people to think the Golden Rule was too good for them — seems to be the best possible answer to why human suffering exists. The center for the development of human rights is where the ethics of Christianity — that all men are created equal — have best permeated the culture. That part of the world is where the greatest blessings have originated. If these plain observations are enough to give me hope, then I don’t see how you can stand to live in despair.

          7. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            MWH,

            It sounds like you have said all you need to say. You have repeated yourself numerous times . No need to keep saying the same thing over and over. We get it…you think Jesus and Christianity is the best thing e-v-e-r. Praise be to the Christians for saving civilization.

            Move along now, thank you very much.

            Bruce

          8. Chris

            And what does that cut and paste job have to do with anything? I’m assuming of course since it’s like your having a discussion about old versus new testament with someone else on my comment thread here.

            Plus I’m not sure who your thinking is living in despair? I’m actually happier now then I ever was when I was a christian. I have hope for the immediate next 40 years future. After I’m dead, all I can hope is that I left things better then I found them so that my children, and my children’s children and so on will have a better world, but it will be up to them to do with the world as they see fit. I had my time in the sun, did my best to help humanity and can die happy knowing that one man can make a difference.

        3. John Arthur

          Hi MWH,

          “I believe the story always ends with some rejection of God’s morals”

          What evidence is there that God actually exists? How can one reject God’s morals if he does not exist? I am not an atheist, but an agnostic Christian humanist.

          Now the bible has God commanding the Israelites to commit genocide on the nations that existed in Canaan because they were very wicked. But little children and babies are not extremely wicked. So Joshua and Israel butchered not only men and women, but also little children and babies, then burnt the cities to the ground. So much for the morality of the bible. This is barbaric. The same thing happened about 400 years later to the Amalekites.

          So to reject aggressive wars (including those where God commanded genocide) is moral. The OT has numerous aggressive wars committed by Israel which God does not condemn, but we should.

          You don’t have to believe or follow God to be moral. Let love (compassion, healing mercy and loving kindness) be your guide.

          Shalom,

          John Arthur

          Reply
          1. MWH

            In the end, God’s judgment is his judgment, whether it is an act of nature or an act of man. Infant mortality is infant mortality. Today, God’s people do not have a promised land on Earth. Anyone who carries out any of God’s apocalyptic judgments is himself on the wrong end of God’s judgment. Jesus’ disciples are the victims of violence, without ever being its perpetrators.

            I accept that human suffering comes from the crooked nature that all people are born with. You believe that if people do what is good in their own eyes, then they will be good. I believe that what is good in human eyes is usually the opposite of the Golden Rule.

    2. John Arthur

      Hi tChick,

      Your link provides no evidence whatsoever for the existence of hell. What the author of the link calls divine revelations might be better called hallucinations. You appear to be an evangelical, but one who rejects the sufficiency of scripture. Can’t you see through this guy who is making it all up then claiming he has received a revelation from God? Give me a break! Why should I believe what you say, if you fall for this nonsense?

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
    3. Michael Mock

      “What if you die, you find you were wrong?”

      That would actually please me immensely. I think that when our bodies die, our consciousness ceases; but this is something I’d love to be wrong about. The chance to be reunited with my loved ones in paradise? Sign me up. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t see any reason to believe that it actually works that way.

      “what if you find that Jesus (the true Jesus of course not the religous/perverted Jesus) is the true God and you simply refused to accept his offer of eternal life? What will you do?”

      There are several reasons why this line of questioning is unconvincing, but the big one for me is this: in what sense have I “refused”?

      I genuinely, honestly don’t believe that any such being exists. That’s not a refusal; it’s not a snub; it’s not a rebellion. It’s just a human being doing the best he can with the information he has, within the limits of his understanding.

      So if I’m wrong, and it turns out that Jesus is even half what Christians claim, then I fully expect that He will understand my failure to perceive His presence, and He’ll understand it with love and with sympathy. And I further imagine that He would have an awful lot of very interesting explanations to offer, about everything. What will I do if I’m wrong? I’ll say hello, and go from there.

      You do us a great disservice, by the way, in assuming that we’ve never considered these questions — and that we’ve never asked Jesus to show us the truth. The reason that most atheists (and ex-Christians in particular) tend to blow off the idea that Jesus will reveal the truth if you ask Him is almost mind-numbingly simple: we tried it, and it didn’t work.

      Reply
      1. MWH

        In the end, I believe we have to say that no atheist actually likes what Jesus stands for. Believing in God, after all, is not about believing that he exists — but about trusting him. For the question of human suffering, to believe that Christ actually relates to human suffering seems about as good an answer as it gets. A person may ask for the truth, but he may not like what he sees.

        (As for the “fires of Hell”, I believe I can show that it comes from well established symbolism. The more I recognize that love and fear are opposites [cf. 1 John 4:18 and Romans 8:15], the more I recognize that faith has nothing to do with selfish fear. The only thing a Christian should fear is to return love with hate.)

        Reply
        1. MWH

          (I gave a link to an essay about fire as an established symbol of judgment, but that wasn’t allowed. Just compare Isaiah 66:24 with Mark 9:43–44, along with Isaiah 34:6–1. In the first five books of the Bible, I can find no mention of being burned alive forever. That is my biggest clue that the “fires of Hell” are a symbol of exaggeration.)

          Reply
        2. Michael Mock

          Question: how does one go about trusting a fiction? How do you trust something if you don’t think it actually exists?

          I ask because it seems to me that it matters not at all whether or not I like what Jesus stands for. Seriously. It doesn’t even matter whether I like what *I think* Jesus stands for, or whether I like what *you think* Jesus stands for. If there was no Jesus, then that’s a far more fundamental issue than what He stood for and whether or not I like it.

          Reply
    4. John Arthur

      Hi tChick,

      “People choose to go to hell by not accepting salvation.”

      I don’t know of anyone who would choose to go to a literal hell forever. Rather, most people don’t believe that there is anything called hell. Just because a holy book claims that there is a hell, doesn’t mean there is one. The bible is a book full of contradictions and is no reliable guide as to what happens after we die.

      No-one knows what happens after death. So why not focus on compassion, mercy, loving kindness, tolerance, openness, and understanding in this life? Isn’t it a far better goal to be a person who is growing in compassion in this life and then let the future take care of itself. After all, this is the only life that we have as far as we can actually know. The next life (if there is one) is pure speculation,

      I am sure that your life would be a whole lot better if you made love your aim and sought, with all your heart and mind, to make that happen in your relationships with others. Remember, we all make mistakes in life, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you sometimes fail. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, but I just want to grow in loving kindness.

      Have a wonderful day!

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. MWH

        After a careful textual study, I have concluded that the “fires of Hell” are actually a symbol. For starters, Adam and Eve do not seem to have been warned about such a place. Nor does the afterlife seem to be the focus of the warnings Moses gives. The term “Hell” may not, in fact, be a decent translation for any of the words it is meant to translate. The words in the New Testament that sound like a graphic description of “Hell” appear to be rooted in Old-Testament symbolism.

        Reply
      2. MWH

        (I gave a link to an essay about fire as an established symbol of judgment, but that wasn’t allowed. So here are the keywords:

        And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
        — Isaiah 66:24

        Isaiah 66 evokes a burning garbage dump of lifeless bodies — not a pit for burning people alive.

        And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: / where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
        — Mark 9:43–44

        The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea [Edom]. / … / And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. / It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. / But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
        — Isaiah 34:6–11

        In the first five books of the Bible, I can find no mention of being burned alive forever. That is my biggest clue that the “fires of Hell” are a symbol of exaggeration.)

        Reply
        1. Joel

          MWH, I’m curious as to your take on Matthew 22:13 and 25:30 where Jesus is describing the kingdom of God and the fate of those not allowed to enter (cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth). Regardless of the presence of “fire”, that doesn’t sound like a fun place to be. Why would Jesus bother with this foreboding language if it didn’t in his view exist?

          Reply
          1. John Arthur

            Hi Joel,

            Couldn’t Jesus have been mistaken?

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

        2. Joel

          @John Arthur – Sure, but I’m not arguing for or against the veracity of the biblical text here. I was questioning MWH about what I take to be his/her position that the concept of “hell” as presented in the bible is merely symbolic language, as opposed to an actual place.

          So unless I am mistaken about what he is advocating, I just want to know how he reconciles his view with Jesus’ teaching on the subject. I suppose you could claim that Jesus was mistaken. But if that were the case, then what is the point of debating the reality of anything in the text?

          Reply
  18. Justine Valinotti

    I commented on one of your other posts, Bruce. The short version of my comment is: Raised Catholic. Didn’t think about the divine or supernatural for a long time. Went through a tough time. Went to church because people said I should try it. Found it, and belief in general, to be wanting.

    Now I want to add something else: I spent some time studying the Bible and theology. Perhaps not to the extent you did, but study I did. And I thought. And prayed. And prayed.

    The church I attended was “progressive” and included congregants from many different backgrounds, including some who were LGBT. Yes, I am in “the spectrum”, too. Yet I simply could not understand how anyone can have a “liberal” interpretation of a book that so plainly states that people who, essentially, have sex for non-procreative purposes outside of heterosexual marriage–or who don’t obey their parents–or wear the wrong kinds of clothes–should be put to death. Or that people who don’t accept the seed of faith that God ostensibly planted within them are damned.

    Today I think the term “progressive Christian” is an oxymoron. For that matter, I don’t see how it’s possible to square any of the Abrahamic religions with love and acceptance–not mere “tolerance”–of those who are different from one’s self.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      The way to ‘square’ it is deny…. Look at the mission work, the soup kitchens, the inner city mission dtop-ins…. look at how Christians dig wells in Africa!
      Good people find ways to help others and themselves. Religion is business but good people are involved in it because through it they feel able to assist others. There is no such thing as a progressive Christian: oxy-indeed!

      Reply
  19. MWH

    It’s your forum; I know when I am not welcome. So I will go.

    Reply
  20. MWH

    The host of this forum doesn’t want me here anymore, [correct, so go away]

    Reply

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