This is a very long post, I have attached this courtesy PDF copy for your viewing pleasure and for download: Author of Confusion_TheBook
I started the Author of Confusion series a little over four months ago after deciding to start presenting my questions in a public forum about what I saw was serious issues of division within the church. I was fed-up with fundamentalism, and done with denominational divides. I had decided to start reaching out to one of my brothers, who is gay, and not judge him for that (I realize some of you may be Christian and not see a problem with this, but for my fundamental upbringing this was big). I did not start this series with the desire to walk away from my faith completely. As I have already shared on several occasions, the cracks in my beliefs started the day I joined the Air Force and went off to basic training.
I made a friend with another Airman that turned out to be an atheist. During our initial conversations I did not realize that he was an atheist, as conversations take a long time in basic training. Once I found out that he was an atheist it cracked my foundation. This guy did not look anything like I was told atheist would look like. I was expecting to see a depressed, evil, lost soul who would need Jesus. The ironic thing is that I started off, once I found out about him being atheist, trying to win him to Jesus. Ultimately, a process that took 11 years, he won me to atheism. There are a lot of good intentioned people in all forms of beliefs. There are good Muslims (theist), there are good Hindus (theist), there are good Christians (theist), there are good Humanist (atheist) and so forth. There are no doubt bad people in all those spectrums of belief as well. What this continually shows is that a person’s belief in god, or not a belief in god has nothing to do with their goodness. In a world of wars and rumors of wars it is easy to feel like all the bad things in the world are all apart of gods plans, that we can just put our fingers in our ears, and yell out “come Lord Jesus, come quickly!”. I know a lot of people who put off life because they are trying to figure out what god wants from them (I was this person at one time). I know people who honestly think that they do not have to answer for the wrong they do because it is *only* god who can judge them.
The reality is that we live in a world full of other people, 7.6 billion the last time I checked, and so it is vitally important that we live this life in two ways, 1) That we answer to ourselves, and the communal society in which we live, and 2) That we live this life as though it will be our last (just in case). Here is the thing, those two rules are rules of my life. Someone else may look at my rules, and say “you’re crazy”. That is fine. I am only hoping to help people see that they shouldn’t make those decisions in favor of, or against a god. For those that do not want to consider an alternative view, you probably should exit out of the page now. You will see a change over the course of these post. The earlier posts are more favoring a communal Christian view because I was still trying to maintain my Christianity. Towards the end you will see that I am becoming more open about the reality of the situation. I hope you enjoy the read.
Author of Confusion: Salvation
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Co 14:33 KJV)
From the start of this, I want to suggest my main theme, so that you might understand my perspective. I believe the author of confusion is man, and the book he wrote. As I write this article I am aware of the divisive opinions that will quickly be leveled my way just for asserting these claims. Maybe not in print, but at least in their mind. However, let me suggest a few things about this topic. I intend to write several articles over this very point of confusion. However, there is no way that I can write one article on this, or it would become a book. Even the “sub-point” of salvation must be broken down even further into specifically just the controversial viewpoint on whether baptism is required for salvation, because there is also the issue of works for salvation, and the issue of the age of accountability, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and so on. So, you see, even in this very first topic, within the first paragraph, confusion is at the center.
I am not trying to mislead you, or to convince you of a specific viewpoint. However, I do desire to make you think beyond what you are being told to believe. Even if you say that you “read the Bible for yourself”, I would ask if you are understanding it on your own or are you reading commentary? There is nothing wrong with reading commentary, but you must understand that depending on what the author of that commentary believes will determine how that verse is being translated. You must see that every single topic will have people from all sides, with different viewpoints, based on scripture. I could argue for baptism being a requirement for salvation and the Catholics, the Methodist, and the Church of Christ would be giving me an “Amen”, while the Baptist would be quick to share the pages of scripture and theological references to suggest that it is not a requirement for salvation.
Before we get into this topic of salvation, you may be asking why does any of this matter? Well I would present to you the age old “Christianese” question that stops non-believers in their tracks, and that is “What if you are wrong?”. No matter what you are, whether Christian or Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic, Baptist or Methodist, or any other belief, if you are wrong there are grave implications here. I have spent my life thus far preaching the Baptist Gospel and there is plenty of opportunity for errors from anyone, including me (how damned we must all be?). With the example I just gave above, I would suggest that the “baptism is a requirement” crowd at least has all their bases covered with salvation by requiring baptism. Because, if Baptist are wrong, and you do need baptism to be saved, there are a lot of people who are going to just barely miss the boat into paradise because they did not get the opportunity to be baptized, or simply chose not to be baptized. Let us dig into the details…
Digging into the issue of salvation is possibly the most important topic we can discuss. If Hell is real (I am not convinced), and there is eternal damnation for those who do not believe, and are baptized then we should all have grave concerns for what message we are preaching. The first verse I want to present to you is out of Mark, and it reads:
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mar 1:4 KJV)
Most Baptist commentaries seem to ignore anywhere that baptism is listed as anything required for forgiveness of sins. This is obviously natural because it would go against the tenets of their beliefs. However, this is very difficult to ignore that clearly baptism is somewhat involved in the salvation experience. Some may say, “well that was Johns Baptism”, that is not the Lords. Well, what about this one?…
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Act 19:3-5 ESV)
Seems to be that whether we are talking about John or Jesus, baptism is important. One of the most used verses for baptism being a requirement for salvation is typically this one…
And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Act 22:16 ESV)
That one is blunt. Not only is it commanding these people to be baptized, but it is specifically stating what the result of that baptism would be, and that it would “wash away your sins”. However, even with these verses, and quite frankly many more, Baptist do not see baptism as a requirement for salvation. Yet, even though they do not find it a requirement for salvation, they (Baptist) do require that you be put completely “under” or “full immersion” as it is said in the vernacular. They also would require you to be baptized to become a member of the church most likely. While there is zero scripture to support requiring baptism for church membership, church membership is something that is not required in scripture either (although most believe it is “implied”), but I will save that for another article.
So, why would someone believe that baptism is not required for salvation?
Often one quotes the verse below to show that baptism was not of critical importance:
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (1Co 1:14-15 ESV)
Clearly the issue that Paul seems to be addressing is that he was fearful that people would get caught up on the issue of who was doing the baptizing. I personally do not see how this shows anything about baptism not being required for salvation, but apparently some people are able to read between imaginary lines and come to that conclusion. The verse below is another one from the same chapter above that is used.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel… (1Co 1:17a ESV)
After all, if God cared about baptism being a requirement for salvation He would have had His most trusted preacher performing them, right? It is ironic to me that when this scripture is quoted as proof they leave out the second part of this verse, which reads…
…and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1Co 1:17b ESV)
Now, it seems to me that a popular reason for leaving this second part off is because people do preach with “words of eloquent wisdom” all the time. How would you even determine this? I can hear preachers now responding to this, “I do not preach with words of eloquent wisdom, I just preach the gospel”. Well, while usually “they” say we are our own worst critics, I fear we are not good judges of ourselves. After all, who would want to admit to emptying the cross of Christ of its power?
Probably the most common defense is the thief on the cross. If God required baptism, how could Jesus assure the thief on the cross he would be with Jesus in paradise? Reference the verse below…
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luk 23:40-43 ESV)
This is played out in many debates on this topic in several ways. I have my own personal example of this even. I accepted Christ when I was only nine years old, and then it took until I was 13 before I was baptized. From nine to 13 I was never told that I needed to be baptized to be saved. If I would have died, would God have seriously said to a 10-year-old who is simply believing what he knows, that he is going to hell because he didn’t get baptized? I have heard that if you are not aware of this requirement God would be gracious, well I sure would hope so. However, what then about the person who does know about baptism being a requirement? What if that individual simply chooses to believe the overwhelming majority in their circle of influence who believe that baptism is not a requirement, and they are afraid of water? I realize that is a hypothetical, but I would be willing to bet it happens. I find it hard to believe that God would send an individual to hell because, even though they believed and followed God, they did not get baptized.
As you can see, this topic can be very confusing, and I honestly only touched the surface, as I did not even get into the issue of what the “correct” baptism is (there is more than one baptism preached). I am praying for us all that we can come to some sort of reasonable conclusion. A conclusion that I cannot find myself coming to is accepting that we just all have different beliefs. If our differences were about the color of the carpet in the church that would be one thing. However, we are talking about salvation, and somehow, we can just sit idly by and let there be these varying opinions about the difference between hell and heaven. Why believe what you believe though? Should you believe that baptism is a requirement? If you do, you do not have to worry about if you are wrong, because it at least will not hurt you that you have been baptized (unless you had the wrong baptism). However, why should you not believe the Baptist viewpoint, after all it does seem to make the most logical sense? What is clear, is that you cannot seem to come to scripture with this question, because every denomination in the Christian faith comes to that very same scripture, and reaches a conclusion different from the next person. This is honestly unfortunate, and I wish I could reach a different conclusion myself, but this is where I find myself.
Baptism, which kind?
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Co 14:33 KJV)
I know that I have taken a while to post again, and I am sorry for that. With everything that happened in Charlottesville a few weekends ago, I got myself way too wrapped up in it on social media and needed to take a break for a little while. Thank you for being patient with me, and I want to say thank you again for the continued views of my page. I greatly appreciate all the readers. I hope that you are finding these blogs enlightening and challenging. The last blog in this series that I wrote was about whether baptism was required for salvation. In this blog I want to focus on the fact that if you even get past this challenging issue, you then must ask which baptism; pouring (effusion), dipping (immersion), or sprinkling (aspersion) is the correct one? Once again, this is, I think, considered a non-issue among most believers. When I talk to most Christians about what church they go to, a favorite question I like to ask is what made them chose that church. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have been told it was based on specific beliefs. Usually it is more vague reasons, such as, “they preach the Bible”. Other vague reasons given include, “we like the music”, “they have a great youth program”, “they help out in the community”, and my all-time favorite “we love the Preacher”.
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” (Luk 4:8 ESV)
I will leave that blog for another day, but I will simply state that I have seen people back their preachers message (because let’s be honest they idolize the Preacher instead of God), more than the Bible. I hear all the time, “Well Brother so and so said…”. Or, “Brother so and so gave an awesome message this morning and he said…”. I hear that a whole lot more then I hear, “I read in my Bible today…”. However, I am not trying to suggest that the Bible is the only place you should get your information (I am sure that will not sit well with most). The thing about it is that it is not the only place where any of us get our information. Here is the problem relying on your preacher, do you know how many preachers there are in various belief systems? Nearly all of them use the Bible, the same one your preacher uses, only to preach a completely different message then your preacher. Someone has it wrong, but nine times out of ten it seems the main reason we choose a church has more to do with the music, the youth program, and/or “loving” the Preacher, then what is being preached.
Back on topic, sorry for chasing a rabbit. When it comes to the topic of baptism I realize that some who think it is not a requirement for salvation may not see then why it matters what way you were baptized. However, try and go into most Baptist churches, if you were only sprinkled, and ask to join. Most Baptist churches will require you to be baptized by full immersion (all the way under the water), for you to become a member of that church. For this reason and other reasons, I believe it does matter that we understand the differences in opinion on this topic.
What reason do churches sprinkle (or pour water) water on people? Well first, it is important to note that most churches that believe sprinkling or pouring water on someone is an acceptable form of baptism, also usually do not have an issue with full immersion as well. The opposite is true of those that believe in full immersion as the only way, as they seem to think that it is literally the only way to be baptized (I would like one proof of it being the only way). The reason that most churches sprinkle or pour water on people to symbolize baptism is because it is an acceptable practice according to scripture.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” (Eze 36:25 NAS)
If you continue in this chapter, these verses continue to describe a salvation experience through this cleansing by sprinkling. Not to overlap the last blog in this series, but this is an interesting point that it would be put as a necessity for cleansing a person. You may say, well that is in the Old Testament. OK, well look at the New Testament, in it you will find the story of Paul being baptized in Acts 9. This is what is said in verse 18:
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. (Act 9:18 KJV)
To those who support the idea of sprinkling or pouring, it is a common verse used to show that Paul was clearly standing, as it says, “he rose” (ESV), and then the baptism happened. Obviously, you cannot be baptized by full immersion if you are standing (that I am aware of, please correct me if I am wrong). The common defense for this verse being used to show that full immersion is not required is to claim that the word, ἐβαπτίσθη in the Greek, is defined as full immersion. Honestly though, it depends on which commentary you are using. I would also point you to Luke 11:38, where the Pharisees try and trip Jesus up by criticizing Him because he did not “wash” before dinner. Contextually, this was referring to a ceremonial practice to cleanse yourself before eating. However, when you look at the Greek word used here for wash, it is the same word used later in Acts, ἐβαπτίσθη. No one is going to try and argue that the Pharisees were trying to say that Jesus needed to go be fully immersed in water before He could eat.
The reality is that there is no scripture to suggest that full immersion is the only way to be baptized. Quite the contrary, there are scripture that suggest it improbable, and unlikely that full immersion was the only way people were baptized. Another interesting perspective on this to consider is that it is interesting considering that Baptist believe that you must be fully immersed in water that they also believe it is not a requirement for salvation, and they believe that a child is not bound by this salvation requirement (Age of Accountability). It seems to be convenient that you would not require a young child to be baptized by full immersion (you would be considered crazy, and likely be sent to jail), and instead would simply suggest that baptism is then not required for salvation, and that you must be old enough to understand what you are accepting to be held liable for your salvation. After all, how could you tell a grieving mother that her young child will be going to hell because they did not accept Christ, nor were they baptized. Instead of facing that issue it would naturally be easier to just do away with baptism as a requirement, and do away with salvation being required of a child before a certain (not specific, although most agree on 12 years old) age. I fear that we are basing our doctrine on logic instead of the Bible. I am not saying that is necessarily wrong, but it could be.
I want to leave you with some personal application of a real-world example of where full immersion was an illogical choice, and so a Chaplain went outside the box and baptized by pouring. Lt. Carey H. Cash (Navy Chaplain), author of A Table In The Presence, tells of his personal experience being attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment as they entered into Iraq from Kuwait as one of the first during Operation Iraqi Freedom following 9/11. In this book, Lt. Cash talks about an amazing experience that he had with his men, where a Marine in his unit asked to accept Christ out in the Iraq wasteland, and then to be baptized. Lt. Cash admits that it would have been easier to have done this back in the states, and to be able to plan it out, but this was not their experience. They were in the middle east, in the middle of a war. Lt. Cash shares how he baptized this young Marine.
“Filling my chalice to the rim with the potable water from my canteen, I asked the young Marine to lean back, and in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Eli was baptized”. A Table In The Presence, Lt. Carey Cash, p. 133
There are churches today that would reject this baptism of Eli. You see, out in Iraq it did not make any sense to try and baptize this young man by full immersion. The author of this book that I have quoted certainly seems to be very confident of his choice of baptism for this Marine. I do not think it is fair to simply dismiss this other opinion, because as Baptist you may not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation. You do require it in most Baptist churches to be a member. So, why does it have to be full immersion?
It is very confusing to me to be hard on what form of baptism for church membership, but not on being baptized to be saved. This seems to be chosen for the sake of convenience, and not theological doctrine. Please feel free to leave a public comment at the bottom of this blog, or you can send a private comment through the form directly below this paragraph. Please let me know what you think. I appreciate all the feedback.
Evidence of salvation (i.e. speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, good works, etc.)
“Since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” –1 Corinthians 14:33, CSB–
I have used the verse above for every post on this topic of confusion. The word used from the Christian Standard Bible here is “disorder”, instead of confusion, but the same principle applies. The reason that I use this scripture is because of the specific instances in scripture that are translated differently to mean different things depending on what denominational structure you fall into. In this chapter, the context of that verse is on the issue of speaking in tongues. Very appropriate for what I am discussing on this blog, because the issue of spiritual gifts has long been a controversial issue. I know many people who follow along the “Pentecostal” belief that state unless you have been “baptized by the Holy Spirit” then you are not walking close enough to God. I have even heard it suggested that unless you possess these spiritual gifts in some form (speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, and other gifts of the spirit), then you are not genuinely saved. Here we arrive at our first supposed “evidence of salvation”:
- Gifts of the Spirit
- Not to be confused with “fruits of the spirit”, gifts of the spirit are referencing more extravagant gifts that no one living, and breathing have actually witnessed that cannot be explained with science. It is interesting to me that out of all the spiritual gifts most often received by believers is that of speaking in tongues. Yet scripture makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14 that the gift we should most desire is that of prophecy. It goes onto suggest that the reason for this is that the gift of speaking in tongues lifts the individual up, but the gift of prophecy lifts up the church. Today, a seemingly large majority of “mainstream” Christian denominations (Baptist, Methodist, Anglicans, Catholics) do not practice any of these gifts at all. These denominations do perform some types of healing by laying on of hands and praying (although I have never seen any of these proven), and many of them “ordain” ministers by laying on of hands, some even using oils to “anoint” the forehead of the individual being ordained.
- Speaking in tongues, in my opinion, is the most widely used because it is the hardest to dispute. If someone claims to have prophecy as a gift, we can easily call them on it. For example, Montanism (back in the 2nd century), Great Fire of London in 1666 (666 being thought to be the number of the beast) in which only 10 people died, in 1806 a poor hen in Leeds, England was having her eggs shoved back up her you know what with an inscription that the owner had written “Christ is coming”, Millerism (not to be confused with the beer, although the taste of Miller makes me wish for the second coming), Harold Camping has tried to predict the end of the world over a dozen times using Biblical numerology, then of course Joseph Smith (Mormon leader), and not to be forgotten the 2012 Mayan Calendar fiasco. If you say you speak in tongues and then start speaking a bunch of gibberish, then what can one say? Those with a logical mind can easily deduct the ridiculousness of what is going on, but more naive people would choose to blindly believe what they are hearing as the Holy Spirit of God.
- Something else brought out in 1 Corinthians 14 is that if someone speaks in tongues then they should also have someone who has the gift of interpreting. For obvious reasons, if someone is speaking “in tongues” then how can any of the rest of us understand what they are saying if there is no one to interpret these tongues. As I have never believed in this sort of thing, I am not the expert on the subject, but I do not believe you can buy a Rosetta Stone for “Holy Spirit Tongue” language. I could be wrong though. I have personally never experienced someone speaking in tongues that had an interpreter present to explain what in the world the person is saying. I am sure that it “happens”, however I do not see how this makes it truthful.
- The biggest problem I have with spiritual gifts as evidence of salvation is that I know some spiritual “giants”, if you will, that are very strong Christians, and strong followers of the Bible, and they have never spoken in tongues, spoken prophecy, healed anyone, etc.
- The “fruit of the spirit”
- In Galatians 5, we come across the second evidence of salvation that I want to discuss, and that is the “fruit of the spirit”. Mentioned briefly earlier, the fruits of the spirit are called: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Whether or not these determine our salvation have long been a topic of debate among the different denominations. In Matthew 7:20, Jesus said, “So you’ll recognize them by their fruit” (CSB). In John 15, we read about Jesus’ description of the “true vine”, this of course being Jesus. Jesus goes on to explain that if we are in him, then we will produce fruit, but if we are not in him then we will not produce fruit. The damnation, of course coming along with that, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6, CSB). While it doesn’t necessarily show that you must have works in order to be saved, it is clear that not having works (fruit) to show will land you among the branches, and thrown into the fire. Somehow, in a few chapters earlier, we were more precious then the birds of the air, and the grass of the field, but now we are being compared to branches.
Verses that discuss the evidence of our salvation are in abundance, and so are the ways in which we are supposed to interpret them. It really comes down to what you “want” to believe, more then who is right or wrong. Speaking in tongues, prophecies, healing with hands and prayer sure are miraculous, but they are also very dangerous. To take from science what it has earned over centuries and replace it with something that could cause severe harm, pain, and even death to those that subscribe to religion as their sole source of “healing”, and “vision” can be damaging to those who are naive enough to drink the Kool-Aid. Science can fail, but with science you can still apply reason and logic. With religion you really do just have to leave it all up to “faith”.
When tradition is the source of income
One of the most rewarding things about becoming a free thinker, and an atheist from that, has been the ability to abandon archaic teachings that simply do not line up with scientific evidence. I can remember as a believer in every word of scripture being truth, that I would hold great disdain for publications such as National Geographic, and I would get a lump in my throat when I would hear about one of my nieces or nephews learning about science, and praying that they would be able to see through the fallacies of modern science (man how indoctrinated I was). I was literally scared of instruction that would have the audacity to suggest that this earth could be millions of years old. I was not fundamental enough to demand it was only in the thousands of years old column, but millions just did not line up with my inspired, word of god bible. Yet, as I decided to start looking objectively at the facts, my eyes started to open to reality. My thought going into this journey was that surely there was nothing that I could find in the facts that would cause the tenets of my faith to be called into question. Fortunately, I was able to use the scientific evidence provided through numerous resources to sincerely question what I was believing, and preaching. So, how does someone like myself come from an ultra-conservative, fundamental mind to believing wholeheartedly in the reality of scientific evidence? Dropping the labels is the best answer I can give. Not allowing myself to come at the evidence with a determined presupposition that god still must turn out to be real, no matter what the evidence shows. So, why can other people who have looked at the evidence not come to the same conclusion? They are not willing to drop the label.
I am often asked from atheist, how I could possibly have stayed in the Christian religion until I was 30, before proclaiming my belief in science over the bible? The simplest answer is I was having an issue with dropping my label. My entire life, and circle revolved around the Christian god being real, and his message was even one that I was preaching publicly. I preached the Christian bible all over the lower 48, here in the United States, and then I preached in England, Germany, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. When people talk about a belief system being the core of their character, I was someone who could claim that wholeheartedly. The concept of Jesus Christ being the savior of the entire world was everything I was about. In High School I was the founder and leader of a prayer group that met weekly, at Church as a teenager I was the “Salem Youth Association” President (two-term, that was impressive apparently). Then at only 15 I was preaching behind pulpits all over East Texas. I preached in front of crowds as small as 10 to as large as 500. I am good at public speaking as well. It is a skill that I honed over years of preaching, but I think it also came naturally (my mother is a great speaker). The greatest compliment I ever received was when I preached in a Methodist church in England, by an elderly man in his late 70s, who told me that I was the greatest preacher he had heard since Billy Graham, and that he saw him preach in person. It was attached to everything I was about, and it fit me well. I was a Pavements and Construction Equipment Journeyman in the Air Force by trade, and I was known as the “Preacha’ man” by all of my colleagues. I was asked to perform the wedding ceremony for a few of my colleagues, and I even led several to choosing the Christian religion for themselves while I was in the military. Everywhere I went I was preceded by a reputation as the Preacher. My entire family (and I have a big family) knew me as the strong Christian, and Preacher. People would clean up their language when I would come in the room (sure some would make their language worse intentionally), and often the conversation would turn to religion if they knew who I was. All our friends were strong Christians, and church-goers. Every fiber of our life was centered around Jesus.
I believe therefore many have such a tough time examining, and then publicly accepting the facts presented. This is, for many, their livelihood. Many that I know in the Christian circle are Pastors, or at least going to school to be Pastors. They have invested every bit of their life into the presupposed notion that the Christian god is the real god, and that Jesus is the way to heaven. To go from that, to accepting that there is no god (at a minimum any of the gods man has imagined), no heaven, no hell, no soul, Jesus did not resurrect from the grave, the earth is millions of years old, we evolved, and were not created would be a huge jump. Quite frankly, it is a jump of social suicide for most individuals.
What does the bible say?
Anyone who grew up in the south in the USA most likely heard at one point or another about the creation story of the bible. You know, the one where a god created light, before he created the sun. Basically, in a nutshell, the bible declares that the earth was created in six days, and in this span of time he also created one man and one woman directly (Gen. 1-3). Through these details, biblical literalist claim that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old (approximately), and that every bit of this creation story is the truth. They understand science says otherwise, but they have made it clear that they believe the bible is not only the final authority on every topic of life, but that it is the only authority. Science is from the devil, specifically, science that disagrees with the bible. Now there are some commentators, and somewhat reasonable scientist, who reject the creation story in the bible, stating that clearly (duh) science shows that the earth is many millions of years old, and that we have evolved over these millions of years. Why do I say that these scientists are somewhat reasonable? Because, the scientist I am referring to continue to maintain that the god of the bible is still real, and that he still created all that we see, just not in the way that is described in the bible. These individuals teach that large parts of the bible (they probably would not prefer me to put it that way) are metaphors, the Genesis story of creation being one of them (you don’t say). A lot of them also claim the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3), Jonah and the whale, the talking donkey in Numbers 22:28 (how crazy is that!?), and other miraculous events, except for the resurrection, seeing as how that one is kind of necessary to the whole concept of Christianity. I mean, after all, if the resurrection did not happen, then no automatic salvation from a prayer, or baptism, or works, or spiritual gifts (whichever is the way of salvation??). If no resurrection, then we would have to go back to sacrificing our most precious items in our life. That would be weird in the 21st century!? Can you imagine seeing someone on the side of the road burning an iPhone, or a big screen TV to sacrifice for the gods?! It would be hilarious, but what would we do, seeing as how not very many families have livestock anymore. I guess the farmers could be our priest? They could take their livestock to be burned for us. We would pay them, and then they would take a cow to the altar for us. OK, I will admit, I chased that rabbit trail a little more then I wanted to. It was kind of fun though.
But science cannot have any answers about our origin, can they?
The most exciting thing that I am finding out about as an atheist, is the actual way in which we came into being who we are today. Finding out our past is so helpful in understanding our present being, and who we can be. Dropping all of the nonsense of religion is one of the most freeing things you can do, especially in the field of science. When you have the burdens of the bible to carry through scientific research it not only limits your research, but even blinds your ability to look at the facts objectively. Heck, even the term scientific theory and facts is debated amongst creationist. Scientist who are not restricted by religion certainly have debates, but it is based on science, not some personal opinion about a superficial god in the sky.
Without giving a lesson on biology, yes science does not only have theories (in the way Christians try and paint it), but facts about the origins of our species, and our world. Please read a scientific book if you want to understand this more (not the bible), it would be too lengthy to explain in a blog post. The basics of the facts are that Homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago in East Africa after millions of years of evolution. Prior to Homo sapiens, we had Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals), Homo erectus (upright man), Homo habilis (handyman), and the Australopithecines (AKA “southern ape-men). Source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/human-evolution-101/
Science offers clear evidences of our earth being somewhere around 4.5 billion years old (Source: https://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/gtime/ageofearth.html). The only reason you have to deny this, is because the bible says it cannot be anywhere near that old. While that is a tough conundrum, most would then let go of the original theory of creation, or at least the account in the bible and move on with their lives. However, for people who are deeply invested in the idea of the bible being the very words of god, they simply cannot afford to lose the credibility of the bible. Many will try and twist scripture to make it say something different, to which I simply ask why god left it that way.
Why god is the author of confusion
I have read from many authors, and scientist who maintain a belief in Christianity, about Genesis being a metaphor. I simply ask why would a great and powerful god do that? Why so many metaphors? Why talk in code? I would have been a lot more impressed with the god of Abraham if he would have put in Genesis, “In the beginning, 4.5 billion years ago, God created the heavens and the earth, including all of the organisms on the earth, and over the course of billions of years God orchestrated an evolutionary process to complete humankind”. You could even still have original sin. Maybe “Lucy” could have committed the original sin (I know how much Christian prefers women to be the ones screwing everything up). It makes absolutely no sense that god would have instead stated it took him six days, put in another verse that a day to god is one thousand years to us (even that doesn’t make sense with science). Why did he not just say the truth? We would all be saying “holy shit” right now in amazement as the god of Abraham would continue to be proven right, and truthful.
I would still not worship the egotistical, genocidal, jealous, childish god that he is, but I would certainly believe he is real. It is just a thought of course, I could be wrong overall the damn thing. After all, I am not the scientist, I am simply the reader of science. So, maybe scientists are all from the devil, just like musical instruments and women. However, I am kind of thinking that there is not much motive for a scientist to be from the devil. I know the bible describes hell as a place of “weeping”, but I would think that heaven, considering how empty it is apparently going to be (Matt. 7:14), will be the place of weeping. The main question I get at this point is based on morality, a question of how we know what is right and wrong. I would literally have to write another blog on that topic, which is what I will do.
I am an Atheist
I come to you with a sincere heart, an open, and clear mind. I want to make sure that I am being honest with all of you about what I believe. I know that many of you came to know me as the “preacher” of the Christian Bible, and I am not that man any longer. I do not want to be deceitful or ask any of you to continue to be involved in my life if this makes you uncomfortable. I know that for many, this will not come as a surprise, but I would now consider myself an atheist. I know how many of you feel about your faith, and so I do not want to take this letter to dismiss your faith, but to simply exclaim that I do not find any evidence for the existence of any god, much less, the Christian god.
There will be, no doubt, many who will try and explain away this decision. There will be many who will decide that I must have never been genuinely saved to begin with, which is not true at all. There will be many who will explain that maybe I simply had a misunderstanding of my faith, I am afraid this is not true either. I am not hurt, I am not angry, I am not being selfish, I am not “cold”, I do not “hate God”, I am not choosing to not believe because I am wanting to ignore morality. I simply find no evidence of god. This is not a season, this is not something that will pass. I did not arrive to this point overnight. I have been having these doubts for a very long time, but only recently started becoming more confident of what I believe to the point of sharing my thoughts. I am remaining, and hope to always remain open to the ability to believe in god, if he would show evidence of his existence. I would love for the “doubting Thomas” experience to be mine. If Jesus appeared to me and let me touch his nail pierced hands I would believe. However, I am not going to hold my breath for that to happen.
You may wonder why I feel a need to share this with anyone. I would simply present to you the same question, but in reverse. Why do you feel it necessary to share that you are a Christian? Why do you find it necessary to share bible verses every day on your social media? Why do you find it necessary to suggest that the most important thing about a person is that they believe in god, specifically the Christian god? I have already been hurt however. Not by my lack of belief in god, but instead in people who were my family that in a very Christian way, chose to tell me they do not ever want to see my “fucking face” ever again. That certainly hurt. I have been hurt by my “family” suggesting that my children are in danger because I do not believe in the same god they do, and even worse, support black people. I am not worried about hell, because I do not believe in hell (which ironically a lot of Christians do not either). The reason I have to tell people is because I am a reason that many believe in God. My wife was not a fundamental Christian until she met me. She believed in god, even the Christian god, but she was not fundamental in her beliefs. I, on the other hand, was very fundamental. Frustrated that my fellow Christians could not get more serious about their faith. Wanting, so desperately to convince these people to stop giving into worldly temptations and give “everything” over to god. These Christians of “little faith” annoyed me to no end. All that I could think about were the lukewarm believers that are mentioned in the bible. I could not understand how these people could be so comfortable with their lives of sin, and still coming into church every week to not change a thing.
Where I am at now, I realize that the reason a person could do that, is because none of it is true. This is not why it is not true, just simply one of the many evidences that it is not. I still find reason for living, after all if this is the only life I have, I absolutely want to make it count. I have not changed, I still have a desire to preach the “truth”. Which is why I must continue to share, continue to speak, and continue to write. I want others to know that they are not alone in their doubts, and if they could rescue themselves from the burden that is the fundamental Christian cult then that would be great. I love you all, and I hope that you all can know that I am sincerely sorry if I have hurt any of you. I am now the “godless Preacher”. If this is not something you can listen to, or be a part of, I understand, but it does make me sad. It lets me know how shallow our friendship was. It lets me know that outside of my Christian faith that I once held, you cared nothing for me as an individual. For what it is worth, I would love to continue to be your friend, and know how life is going. Thank you for reading, and participating in my life. You all have shaped me into who I am today, and while I know some may take that as an insult, I mean it as a compliment.
**I want to end with my post about my “main question”. I ended up chronologically, through my blog, writing this post somewhere in the middle of my series on Author of Confusion because of the overwhelming response that I received about what point I was trying to make. I think for this compilation of this series, it is a healthy perspective to end here**
OK, let us pause for a few minutes. I appreciate the response to the past few articles. We had well over a few hundred responses between visits, and impressions through Twitter, Facebook, Google and on WordPress over just a few days. Thank you. I realize that some people are taking these the wrong way.
The only point I am trying to make is that we need to think outside the box. We need to dig in more. In this article I want to take a pause and look at some very basic principles from where I am coming from, and hopefully not cause a heart attack. Thank you for being gracious with me.
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, (1Co 14:33 ESV)
Once again, I start with this verse. Hopefully to hit home the point that this is not the reality of denominational differences on very important topics. The fact that these are extremely important topics is what really makes this worth writing about. There should be no greater topic to a Christian then the issue of salvation. If we are wrong on these things, then there could be serious implications behind these beliefs. I do not understand not having any desire to search these things out. It seems that the only reason that most people do not seek answers to these topics is because either 1) they do not care, or 2) they feel like they are confident in what they already believe because they think their viewpoint is the one viewpoint supported by scripture. I realize this is not 100% of Christians, and I know that some Christians have searched out the scriptures, dug in deep and they are confident in their faith for good reasons.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15 KJV)
This verse above is also one that I think suggest that we be more confident in our faith. Paul often implies that we should have a deeper faith then most of us do, such as the verse below.
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Heb 5:13 ESV)
In this analogy Paul suggest that at some point we are supposed to move on to deeper things of our faith, or as he calls it, the “meat” of the Word. If we are in the same spot with our faith at 20+ years that we were on day one of our salvation, then there is a problem. The point of being saved is not for securing heaven, as most of us seem to care about above everything else, but instead it is about a daily walk with the Lord. It baffles me when I hear someone describe their walk with God as mundane. All I can think is, what God are you following? Because, the only God I am aware of is anything but mundane. I believe the reason for this is because we go to church to check a box, and we never dig into our faith. I have upset some people by asking these obvious questions because it seems to threaten people’s viewpoints. I am not a theologian by any means, although I have studied the Word of God for 21 years. However, I would hope that you have more confidence in your beliefs to be able to defend them from a 30-year-old layman. What I honestly hope we can conclude is realizing that maybe, just maybe the things we make a big deal out of are not things that we should be making such a big deal out of. I believe that the divisiveness that we have caused results in many walking away completely from the faith, and many more at least not being willing to dig into the meat of the Word. That is at a minimum what I am wanting to encourage; do not believe what you believe just because someone told you that is what is right. It is obviously good to seek counsel, but anyone who wants to suggest that they, and their message is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man can come to salvation by any other message clearly did not read the following verse very well:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Joh 14:6 ESV)
Jesus, not the Baptist, not the Methodist, not the Church of Christ, not even the Catholics are the way, the truth, or the life. However, thank goodness Jesus is.
Please send me a private message, or e-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from any of you if you have any questions or would like to add anything.
This conclusion was from a post, My main question, in which I tried to explain my perspective, and what I was trying to figure out. Even though I was personally struggling with whether to believe in any of this at all, I chose, during these initial questions, to believe anyways. I was trying to have unquestionable faith. Ultimately, I could not continue believing in something that had no logical basis, and that was so divisive, hateful, misogynistic, homophobic, judgmental, and hypocritical (and yes, I am talking about the Abraham god, not just the people who worship a god). So, this is it, a compilation of my journey from belief to atheism.
The godless Pastor,