When certainty becomes uncertain…
When a Christian is no longer a Christian
I was running through my old church’s statement of beliefs this morning and I couldn’t find one I could agree with. Admittedly they are very conservative and, though there are other churches which do not hold to their extreme views on biblical inerrancy, hell and atonement, I have to be honest: the Sunday service of any Christian Church I have visited has almost zero value. I’ve thus left the Church, local and global, abandoned my faith in historic Christian doctrine, and am attempting to live out my respect for Jesus apart from the Church.
What I miss most is meeting the good folk after church services for a chat. Nice folk mostly, albeit with some horrible beliefs. Beliefs they fear they cannot abandon. Luckily most people do not actually live out their beliefs or act according to them. For if you really think that God is violent sometimes, then maybe it’s OK for you to be. OK, sadly some Christians do live this out. Politicians as well as parents. If God the father is basically always angry with you for your constant failings and requires Jesus to intervene to keep Him from killing you then maybe that’s how we should be fathers and mothers: angry overseers, ever-so-loving, but in need of constant appeasement. No wonder the history of mankind as a history of wars did not change at all when Christianity gained the upper hand. Violence wins…
Such thoughts and others convinced me over the past year I realised that I was becoming unChristianized. The tipping point, at which I was fairly evenly undecided, was probably around the time I listened to a Christian minister debate the head of the British Humanists and found myself repelled by both sides. Since then the scale has tipped in favour of humanism, though not necessarily in favour of the aims of the British Humanists. A philosophy which says all life is sacred, like that of Albert Schweitzer, is far better than the barbaric views expressed in the Bible, both in the old and new testaments.
Luckily for Christianity, it is an amalgam of teachings and thus can draw on passages at will to counter almost any attack. This was my standard approach in defending the faith: If accused of being a violent religion, appeal to Jesus’ teachings on loving your enemies. If accused of being capitalist pigs, quote (but never apply) his injunction to give up all your possessions (Lk 14:33). If accused of taking a low view of humans, bracket out Paul and respond instead that “all are made in God’s image”. If accused of misogyny, again bracket Paul, and instead focus on the few females in the Bible who are cast as heroes. Think for example of Mary of Magdala, the first of the Apostles, the Apostle to the Apostles and don’t mention that your Church won’t ordain women or let them teach any men. There doesn’t seem to be any criticism Christian apologetics can’t answer but when you put all the answers together they just don’t fit.
At some stage I realised this was just not honest. How can Christians say that Islam is violent because of some injunction to violence in Surah 9 when their own Bible has God himself directing wars and rewarding his soldiers with sex slaves? Saying “that was the Old Testament” or “we must look at the context” is just another way of saying “it looks bad, but here’s why it’s OK” which is basically what a liberal Muslim scholar will say if you query them on Allah’s command to “kill the infidel wherever you find them”. Interestingly both sides are keen on Absolute Morality but their arguments claim that that behaviour (killing your neighbours and taking their daughters) was acceptable long ago but not now. If that isn’t moral relativism, I don’t know what is.
And so I plan to continue journalling my thoughts on Christianity here as well as finding a way of living in the aftermath of fundamentalism collapsed. I want to find a way to think and live properly and articulate what seems to me the problems and the solutions in our world.
 A phrase not actually found in the Bible. It was Adam and Eve made in God’s image and, as we know, they “fell” and became depraved after eating the fruit so you could argue humanity is not all Imago Dei.