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Posts Tagged ‘Atheism’

Proof

October 6, 2009 1 comment

One of the websites my wife and I keep up with is called the Jesus Manifesto.  Overall, most of the discussions we’ve read have been pretty good.  There was however, a letter posted yesterday, I believe that hits close to home for us.  The title of the note was called “A Letter to a Common Sense Atheist.”  Though this was a thought provoking letter, I don’t want to get tangled in superfluous details nor initiate another “argument.”  That being said, there is something I’d like to address.

My wife and I are actually fairly close friends with an atheist family.  We have shared many wonderful discussions together and our conversations have shed light on many of my assumptions, not just about the Christian faith tradition, but on life as a whole.

However, I must say that there is still something that disturbs me about this whole Atheist vs. Christian discussion.  And I feel like I can speak fairly honestly about the subject because I’ve been apart of conversations in both camps.  Here’s the deal.  No matter which way we flip the coin, each faction has their artillery of “proof” intended to blank-out the arguments of the other side, proving them wrong.

Here’s my real issue.  I’m sure that there are many facts that are true on both sides.  But, I think we’ve still missed the point.  I’ll argue from the Christian perspective because that’s what I know and it would be pretty arrogant of me to assume I know the mind of someone else.  I think it is a horrible waste of time for Christian people to try to prove people to heaven.  First of all, that’s not really a biblical concept.  And it’s awfully silly for us to use the Bible as a scientific text since at the time it was written, the concept of science was a mere 1,000 years in the future.  Anyone else see the disconnect there?

So, what then, does that mean?  I believe it to be our responsibility as followers of Christ to translate his LIFE into the language of the world we live in today.  It’s really kind of a waste of time to “prove” someone into believing in God, and I am not really concerned about all the “facts” that we claim to have.  Our job is to BE a different kind of people.  The world doesn’t see anything different in Christians because we can argue with the best of them.

I had the opportunity to preach this past Sunday and I spend some time in the 5th chapter of Matthew, in what we have traditionally labeled, the Beattitudes.  One of the glaring disconnects hidden within that passage is the fact that none of charges Jesus issues has anything to do with “believing” the right things.  I argue that it’s overwhelmingly a description of Kingdom life. LIFE.  It’s not a list of lofty ideals that are good to hope to attain, rather they are a description of the life of someone who is participating in the realm of God here on this earth.  To dive ever deeper into what Jesus is talking about, I even argue that if we are not showing mercy, making peace and being persecuted for doing those things, we are really just warming a seat on the sidelines of life.

So, I then argue that arguing is a waste of time… HA.  Isn’t it sad how quickly we can get wrapped up in our own words?  Interesting thought.  That alone could be flushed out into a few more posts.  Yet I end with the model of Christ.  What kind of life are we going to live?  Will we be participants in the realm of God, or are we going to be content to argue with everyone we come in contact with?  And I will break my own rule for this reason: I believe the essence of Christ is fully realized when we lose churchy language, step outside of the building, file away all our “proof points,” hold our tongues, love people wastefully and bring the Kingdom life here.

So, let’s please stop trying to “convert” people and just recklessly love them, and allow the Christ life to be realized in the decisions I make each day.

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A Letter

June 9, 2009 2 comments

Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, that I can remember, I’ve taken an opportunity to educate myself, though not very thoroughly, about the “other side of the issue.”  For far too long, people claiming to be followers of Christ, myself included, have been, for lack of a better term, slinging mud on anyone who is not “in” with Jesus.  I have little experience with debating, but I’m pretty sure that it is foolish to enter a debate without sufficient information from both sides of the issue.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about in a very narrow sense, the idea is such that, anyone outside the Churches of Christ is hell-bound, and in a broader scope, those without any kind of Christian affiliation suffer the same plight.  And those of us who are the religious elite, somewhere along the line, decided that the way of Christ is one in which we are obliged to sling mud at those who deny God completely, while at the same time firing religious, doctrinally charged bombs at anyone who doesn’t do the right things.

There have been two books that I’ve read in the past few weeks that had a massive impact on the very foundations of “how I’ve always done things.”  The first, A New Kind of Christian has affirmed the questions I’ve had for several years in that those of us who are seriously committed to following Christ must do things differently.  The old, established saying, “It’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t fly in my book.  At some point we’ve got to get our heads out of the sand and realize we are the ones standing in the way of people knowing  who the true Christ is.  His love hasn’t been able to break through our dogmas and piety.  Sam Harris’ book, Letter to a Christian Nation was a sobering read in that arena.

The summary:  I’m done slinging mud.  I think it’s a waste of time to drag other people, groups, religions, whatever you’d like to call it, just so I look a little bit better or gain some sort of higher ground.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  One of his central teachings is that he came to serve and not be served.  What that means for me; I will not longer bash my religious (any and all religious affiliations) brothers and sisters for the ways in which they’re wrong and I’m right.  I will also no longer bash my non-religious (agnostics, atheists, etc.) brothers and sisters for their denial of a being of whom I have no way of factually proving his existence.

Now, I move to the steps I will take in an effort to be an agent of change here and now.  With every fiber of my being, I desire to stand against injustice.  I will engage in relationship with all who are willing.  My goal is not to proselytize, rather, befriend.  I think a language we all can speak is one of friendship.  We all need good, authentic friends and that translates across all racial, economic, religious and non-religious boundaries.  I vow to be totally different.  I will continue to follow Christ in as best as this mortal body allows and I will not allow my “religious convictions” to be a conductor of human suffering.

This, is a conversation that will continue and I would love to begin to open up those lines as an agent of change, a new way of living, bringing a new and better life for everyone, not in the distant future, but right here, right now.