Easter and the Power of the Christian Message

Christian messageThis Easter Sunday morning, I woke up early and watched… the Jesus Film. This post contains my thoughts on the love of Jesus and the power of the Christian message. It’s not typical fare for this site, but my atheist friends, please bear with me… 🙂 The last time I saw the Jesus Film was in 1985 when I was 19 years old. My good friend Mike had just won me over to the Christian faith, and watching this film sealed the deal. I was extremely moved back then by the love of Jesus, and I still am today.

I invite my Christian friends to consider my thoughts. I invite my ex-Christian friends as well to consider my thoughts. I’m not asking either group of folks to agree with me. All I ask is your time and your thoughtful consideration. 🙂

I urge my Christian friends to consider the power of the message that they possess by faith. The story of Jesus is the story of LOVE. It’s the story of forgiveness. It’s the story of redemption. It doesn’t matter to me whether the stories we find in the Gospels are literally true or not. What matters to me is the power they have to change lives. These ancient stories that come down to us from a different time and a different place in history still have tremendous meaning and power today. Like many things in life, they can be used for good or they can be used for evil.

The Christian faith has motivated good people to accomplish great things in this world. But unfortunately, it has also been used to justify hatred. The first thing that comes to mind is Christians using their faith to vilify the Jewish people as the murderers of their Lord. Antisemitism is still a problem in the world today. Hitler used his Catholic faith to justify murdering six million Jews, and he made it clear that he believed that he was doing the Lord’s work. All of that was decades and centuries ago. But sadly, many Christians still use their faith as a vehicle for hatred. Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, yet many prominent Christian preachers use their pulpits and their media outlets to preach hate against the gay community. A couple of the more extreme examples that comes to mind is a pastor in Arizona, I believe, who is openly calling for gays to be murdered. Another vocal pastor has called for gays to be rounded up and penned like animals so they can’t reproduce… but though most Christians don’t wish physical harm to come to gays, they make it clear that gays and lesbians are not welcome in their churches.

How incredibly, tragically sad is that? My understanding of the love of Jesus is that it is unconditional and that it is extended with open arms to EVERYBODY. That includes gays, lesbians, transgender folks, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the list goes on and on… isn’t LOVE the most powerful force in the universe? How can it possibly be limited to a select few when EVERYBODY is in need of it?

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Consider those words of Jesus. Has anything more powerful ever been spoken? Imagine what our world would be like if we as a species lived those words. What if we all believed in a God of Love and we dedicated our lives to living out that love towards others? And what about loving our neighbors as ourselves? Who is my neighbor? Sure, it’s the folks who live in my neighborhood, most of whom I’ve never even met. But my neighbors are also the citizens of my city and my state. And the circle grows wider to include the citizens of my country. And then it grows ever wider to include the citizens of all other countries on this planet. And it grows wider still to include every single human being currently living on this planet. My neighbor isn’t just the folks next door. My neighbor is EVERYBODY, and they are all equally deserving of my respect and my love.

If I had a church and I was publicly representing the Love of Jesus, guess who would be welcomed in my church with open arms? Yes indeed… ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY! And, in my opinion, that is how churches today should operate. Their doors should be open to EVERYBODY.

My Christian friends, do you realize what those of us on the outside of your faith looking in see when we look at your faith? We see it being used to spread hatred and bigotry. We see it being used to bilk those who can least afford it out of their money. We see it being used to build giant cathedrals and to buy jet airplanes for rich televangelists. Does Jesus need a jet plane? Do any of his followers need a jet airplane? No, of course not. In my opinion, those who claim the name of Christ need to wake up and realize that they have the most incredible message on earth. They have the potential to do tremendous good in the world. It is tragic beyond words that the greatest message the world has ever known is being used to spread hatred.

My message to Christian pastors is this: STOP USING YOUR PULPITS TO SPREAD HATE. USE THEM INSTEAD TO SPREAD LOVE! People in this world need LOVE. It is LOVE that they are looking for and it is LOVE that will win them over.
I am not currently a Christian, but I love the message of Jesus. This life is a battle that we have no choice but to engage in. Every moment of every day we are faced with the choice to do good or the choice to do evil. We can choose to reject those who are different than us, or we can choose to welcome them with open arms. We can choose to help others who are in need or we can choose to look the other way. The Love of Jesus as I understand it compels me to look at this world through the eyes of LOVE. The Love of Jesus compels me to do good and to help anyone I can in any way that I am capable of. It inspires and compels me to love everyone, regardless of their faith or their beliefs.

My Christian friends, you have an incredible gift to share. You have faith in a loving God and you have been shown incredible love. My suggestion to you, offered in love, is to get busy sharing it! Show God’s Love to EVERYBODY, not just people you are comfortable with. Your message, the Christian message, has the power to change lives and to change the world. Think about that reality and use it wisely and with love…

My 2 cents… if you’ve read this to this point, you are amazing and thank you. I don’t ask you to agree with me. I just ask that you consider my thoughts. Thank you, and I hope you have an awesome Easter Sunday.

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 5

This is Part 5 of this glorious series responding to this article.

As Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, the difficulty we face as fallen human beings, whether we realise it or not, is that we are alienated from our Creator because the moral imperfection we have inherited from our rebellious ancestors – our wrong thoughts and motives, as well as our bad behaviour – inevitably separates us from God. This may seem unjust, extreme, and hard to believe, since we are accustomed to being a mixture of good and bad (‘nobody’s perfect!’ we say), and cannot, in our fallen state, altogether help being imperfect. But the problem is that our Creator God is not only Love, but Goodness and Justice personified, and therefore infinitely ‘holy’ – to use the language of the Bible. This means that He cannot overlook our moral failings and be united to us in love, since His perfect character is repelled by our sinfulness. His justice demands that the human race should bear the full destructive consequences of turning away from Him and flouting His will. We personally may not have rebelled against God at the dawn of history, but like all human beings since that time, we have been morally and spiritually damaged by the severance of that spiritual umbilical cord between God and Man which used to exist in the Garden of Eden. God’s love and goodness and joy can no longer flow unimpeded through us, because our human nature has been corrupted and we have become broken vessels that cannot retain the water of divine life. That is to look at our situation from God’s point of view. If we examine it from our own human perspective, the problem doesn’t get any easier. In order to be reconciled to God, the debt owed to Him by our wrong-doing must be paid, but we are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Reconciliation with God also requires perfect repentance, but it takes a good person to repent since repentance involves not only eating humble pie and saying sorry to God, but also surrendering our lives to Him. If we want to reconnect with our Creator, we must abandon our self-centredness, but the problem is that the worse we are, and the prouder we are, the harder it is for us to do this.

An entire paragraph of religious nonsense written by a man clearly unfamiliar with the Old Testament or even with the unpleasant and brutal parts of the New Testament. As I have pointed out before, the God of the Bible is not loving and he is certainly not moral or holy. He is a murderous, genocidal maniac who makes Hitler look like an awesome guy by comparison. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not order or directly commit mass murder and genocide on multiple occasions. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not kill billions of people in very unpleasant ways (see the book of Revelation, if it were to come true in today’s modern world) simply for failing to believe the right things about the correct god in the correct way. Goodness, Love, and Justice would not send even a single human being to a place where they would be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever, for ANY reason.

Fallen human beings? That myth is based on an absurd ancient creation myth involving two obviously mythical people, a talking snake, magic trees, and magic fruit! Mankind is not “fallen”. We simply are what we are as a result of millions of years of biological evolution, and like every other creature on this planet, we have evolved to be suited to our environment. Otherwise, we would not be capable of surviving. We are not perfect, but there never was a time when we were! Human nature is not broken or corrupted. I have been on this earth for 48 years now, and yes I have met some bad people in my time, but the vast majority of the people I have met have been good, whether they were religious or not. And, it just so happens that I have many friends online at http://www.ex-christian.net who, like me, used to Christians. We are not bad people because we don’t believe in God and we don’t believe in Jesus anymore. The people I know over there are all good, kind, decent, moral, loving, caring and compassionate. And they almost all are now atheists! Glory!

Given this dilemma, what did God have to do to resolve it? How could He reconcile His justice with His mercy? How could He save the human beings He had created in love from the consequences they had brought upon themselves by the misuse of their free will? How, in other words, could God save us from death and separation from Him in eternity? And let’s be clear what this involves, however upsetting it may be. To be separated from God in eternity, means to be consciously and forever separated from the source of all life, all love, all joy, all truth, and all beauty. That is an indescribably terrible fate, about which Jesus spoke with real horror in the Gospels, but it is what we all risk if we refuse to accept God’s rescue plan for ourselves. So what, then, is God’s rescue plan? How can we be reconnected with our Creator?

The God of the Bible is not just and he is not merciful. God did not create us. Like all other living creatures on this planet, we are the product of millions of years of biological evolution. If I remember correctly, the earliest hominid species is approximately two billion years old, but don’t quote me on that… Consequences because two obviously mythical people ate magic fruit from a magic tree because a lying talking snake talked them into it? Gimme a fucking break… The God of the Bible is not life, love, joy, truth, or beauty. READ YOUR OWN DAMN HOLY BOOK and rip those damn Jesus Goggles off when you do it, and you will see that for yourself! The words which Jesus allegedly spoke were put into his mouth decades after he allegedly lived and died by anonymous authors who most certainly were not eyewitnesses of the events portrayed in the Gospels. It’s been a while since I actually read any of the Gospels, but I’m pretty sure it was Jesus who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture. If he would send me or any other human being there for ANY reason at all, then he is not good, loving, or holy and he is not worthy of worship. God’s rescue plan was to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself, which is absurd!

According to Lewis, God could only save us by becoming a human being and dying on our behalf, because only in this way could He enable us to go through that process of dying to self without which true repentance and reconnection with Him is impossible. Just as we are enabled to think because God created our minds and nurtures our intelligence, so, argues Lewis, we can now repent of our sins and give ourselves to God, because the capacity to die to self is now part of God’s divine nature in Jesus, and can therefore be communicated to us through our union with Him. Our ability, if we choose, to be reunited with God, was also won for us by Jesus because, as Man, and therefore our representative, His death on the cross paid the debt owed to God’s justice by human sin. Like a judge who imposes a fine on his guilty son and then takes off his judge’s robe and pays that fine himself, so Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, suffered the penalty of sin in our place. But since He was and is divine as well as human, He overcame death and rose from the grave on our behalf, having torn down the barrier separating fallen human beings from their Creator. That is the meaning of the Atonement and the Resurrection.

Stories of dying and rising gods were around long before the time in which Jesus supposedly lived and died. This is yet another paragraph of mythological and ridiculous religious nonsense. God did not create our minds and he does not nurture our intelligence. Our brains and our minds evolved over a period of several million years, as did our intelligence. Vicarious substitutionary atonement is a barbaric doctrine that has no place in our modern civilized world, yet it is embedded within our common Western psyche as being something good and holy. I wrote recently on the subject, and here’s the link:

http://religionisbullshit.me/doctrine-substitutionary-atonement/

This video from Christopher Hitchens on the same subject is also good:

This concludes Part 5 of this glorious series. Part 6 is coming soon! Glory!

My Thoughts on John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

For many years of my life, this verse represented the happiest of all possible messages. But my opinion has changed. Let me explain why.

I no longer believe that God exists, but even if he did, is the Biblical God really a God of Love? How does the Bible portray him? Sure, the Bible does say that God is love (1 John 4:8), but the vast majority of scripture portrays him quite differently.

Exodus 22:24 – And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

Numbers 31:17 – Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

Exodus 17:8-16 – The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.”

Exodus 32:27 – Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ ”

There are many more verses in the Bible that clearly portray God as evil rather than loving. In fact, the vast majority of the Bible portrays God as more evil than loving!

What about the world that God supposedly loves? What is its nature? According to the Bible, it is flat! The Bible is a flat earth book from cover to cover.

The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. (Daniel 4:11)

This would only be possible if the earth was flat.

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)

This “circle” is a flat disc, which was a common cosmology for the time. If the earth was flat, the inhabitants would appear as grasshoppers from a great height. You spread out a tent on a flat surface, not a sphere!

So, God can’t even get the shape of the earth right!

…that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish…

The idea of substitutionary atonement is barbaric to me now. Couldn’t God come up with a better salvation plan that having to kill himself in order to save us from himself? I don’t believe in such a thing as sin, but even if I did, I would not believe that blood and violence would be required to atone for it. I’m better than that, and God certainly should be too!

Then we have the problem of the authorship of the book of John. We don’t even know who wrote it! John, like the other Gospels, was written anonymously. See:

http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/jesus.html#sources

So… that should explain why I no longer see John 3:16 as the “Good News” I once believed it to be.