Homosexuality, sin, righteousness, and the abhorrent behaviour of mainstream Christianity.

Aside

There’s no easy way to write this article. It’s not a task I feel particularly comfortable about performing but, I believe, it is necessary to write this article. As the title suggests, I’m going to be covering a range of topics that are undoubtedly, surrounded by controversy.

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I figured it’d be easiest to outline my context for clarity’s sake. I am a self professing Christian, I adore Jesus and it is my life’s goal to make his name known throughout the earth. I want to see lives transformed and I want to see hearts soften. I know that the majority of people who are likely to read this article will not share my contextual perspective and I wish to urge you to hear me out, I want to right some serious wrongs. This article itself shall not attempt to convert you to Christianity, I believe that, in order to share the gospel and bring people into a loving relationship with Jesus, a personal touch is needed that just cannot be actualised digitally.

Speaking as a Christian, I do uphold the doctrine of sin, I think it is real, apparent and abhorrent to God. I do however, want to make some distinctions about sin which I think mainstream (by mainstream I mean the stuff we read about in papers, see on the TV etc.) Christianity has failed to make apparent in today’s society. I write this article because I am desperate to dispel some myths and eager to see the name of Christianity dissociated with words such as, ‘bigotry’, ‘intolerant’, ‘homophobic’, ‘racist’…

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I think it’s vital to approach this argument by defining some terms. Society as a whole, especially secular society, has a widely false understanding of what sin actually means. This is largely the fault of outspoken Christians who have made a point of fighting against, what they perceive to be, sin.

Biblically, the Christian doctrine of sin is strongly established with a whole sweep of scriptures aiding our understanding. The big danger is when people take one or two isolated verses out of their context and use them to build their doctrines.

In his book, Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, defines sin succinctly, ‘Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature’. One glaringly obvious point to note with this definition is that the emphasis is on God’s moral law and not man’s moral understanding. It is when the emphasis is placed on the latter rather than the former that some of the bigger issues pertaining to our subject matter arise. Sin isn’t attributed to only individual acts but, to the much wider area of attitudes we hold towards things.

Jesus really was a radical man when he spoke on God’s moral law and sin. The super-spiritual, highly religious attitude towards sin in first century Judaism was to loudly and violently oppress it. Speaking into this Jesus addressed the layman, and persecutors alike by saying things like this:

‘You have heard that it was said, “you shall not commit adultery”, -One can imagine the religious folk would have begun looking round the crowd and sneering at those they believed to be guilty but, then Jesus adds- ‘But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Matthew 5:27-28) again, I can imagine the looks of horror that might have crossed the religious folks’ faces as Jesus spoke this damning addition to the moral law.

So sin is way more than any one particular thing and, Jesus broadened the scope of sin by telling us that sin concerned even the heart condition of humanity.

I think, part of the problem when we talk about homosexuality, sin and the church is that, for too long, the church has treated homosexuality like it is the biggest problem on the earth today. I do not see how any rational person alive today can carry those perceptions. My younger brother is gay, I love him to bits and, whilst he’s far from perfect (neither am I), I can hardly say he is part of the biggest problem on earth today. Far from it in fact. I look at the shocking treatment of homosexual athletes in Russia that has become a predominant feature in the media recently. I look at that and cannot help but think the persecutors are a way bigger evil in the world today than any, ‘evil’ a gay person might or might not be capable of.

Sin is all encompassing. The bible teaches that God created things to work in a specific way. He created out of love and a desire to see relationships bloom. In order to get true love from his creation he had to give his creation a choice (love has never been involuntary and always requires choice). Now, the bible also teaches that sin was not part of the intended creation but is a consequence of choice. In Adam, the choice was made to disobey God and enter rebellion, a heart condition that persists today.

However you look at it, humanity is in rebellion against apparent moral laws. This isn’t something that a Christian perspective can claim exclusivity on, there’s plenty of atheists, humanists, secularists, agnostics, Buddhists etc. who also share the view that humanity as a whole rebels against a standard moral code. Those who disagree might want to tell me why rape, murder, and other depraved acts are perceived as so.

It is this state of rebellion that keeps us separated from God. Not because God wants to punish us to an eternal hell but, because we don’t want that relationship with God. And, that is the true meaning of sin. Sin is the rebellion. It isn’t specific.

Being a Christian isn’t about going to church on a Sunday, it isn’t about dressing or behaving in a certain way. There is only one thing that makes somebody a Christian; they recognise their utter hopelessness to do what is morally sound in the eyes of God, they see that Jesus has made a way for us to restore our relationship with God and they take seriously Jesus’ call to, ‘follow me’.

That’s it. A Christian is called to follow Jesus.

Here’s the interesting thing, Jesus was a radical man (and that is putting it lightly). His call to, ‘follow’ him consists of some pretty tough stuff to act out upon. The most important aspects of a life dedicated to following Him include a desire to give up all traces of one’s life before that moment, a desire to love everybody (Jesus died for gay people too!) and an earnest desire to live according to God’s moral law.

That isn’t to say we can’t make mistakes, any true follower of Jesus knows that it is really tough living in this world without caving to the pressures of it. We can all get sucked into idol worship in the form of consumerism, lust in the form of pornography addiction and exploitation of men and women. We can all get sucked into anger and hatred (dare I say it, the culture of hating the church for their treatment of homosexuals is equally as depraved as the church’s treatment of them). The beauty of Jesus is that his Mercy is renewed daily and, once saved, always saved!

Humanity is not righteous. Gay people are not righteous. Feminists are not righteous. Straight people are not righteous. Christians are not righteous. The pope is not righteous. Jesus is righteous. The only way we can hope to be made righteous is by following this Jesus.

I want to conclude by making some things clear. IT might seem I’ve skirted around the question of whether or not I think homosexuality is a sin. I haven’t and shall answer it now but, I needed to say the above beforehand (context really is a wonderful thing). I take Jesus seriously. I take what he said seriously. When Jesus spoke about sexual immorality, he referred to the moral code we see in the old testament book of Leviticus. If I am to take Jesus seriously, then I must also take seriously the teachings of Leviticus (some might be quick to quip about some of the more culturally absurd teachings of Leviticus, stoning for example but I’d have to say that is a conversation that would require a much more considered response than what I am capable of offering here without detracting from the intended purpose of this article) and, Leviticus makes it clear that homosexuality is listed as sexual immorality.

I need to make this crystal clear: whilst I think homosexuality (the act of homosexual sex in specific, not the attraction between two people of the same sex) is a sin, I do not think it deserves special ranking in a list of sinful behaviours. My own sin is equally as rebellious to God’s moral code as anything a homosexual may do. I am entirely against the persecution of Gay people and think that they have as equal a right to live life as a straight person does. I am entirely against -for that matter- the persecution of any people group for any reason, persecution never betters anything! Jesus solved the world’s immorality by sacrificing himself, his perfect righteousness, so that those who believe may be made righteous in Him. We need to follow that example, fighting against immorality by sacrificing ourselves and loving unconditionally our fellow human beings!

I understand that this issue is broad, I welcome conversation on subjects I might not have covered in this article as well as, points of contention you may wish to make in regards to points I did make in this article. I do ask however, that it be kept civil. I am all for healthy debate, I am fully opposed to bigotry, anger, hatred and name calling. Any comments I deem to fit into the categories stated will be deleted.

🙂

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a reflection on something I read recently…

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Straight off the bat, It’s been ages since I last sat down to write anything so, I ask you to be a little patient with me as I progress with this post!

What stirred me enough to sit down at my computer and write a blog post I hear you ask?

Of course you are not asking that, chances are you are reading this in passing and don’t avidly follow my on-line musings. Allow for my little flourishes of personality though, I find that sometimes the things I write about are quite heavy going and need to be balanced with a lighter, chattier narrative voice!

Well, I was sat in the hospital the other day (long and entirely unexciting story believe me), and found myself with a stinking headache and several hours to kill and only a handful of books at my disposal (via my I pad). I found myself attracted to a really well known book that I bought earlier in the year but forgot about: God is Not Great by the wonderfully witty and sophisticated late, Christopher Hitchens.

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I only managed to get the introduction out of the way before my reading was interrupted by, ‘hospital stuff’ and shall base this article only on the little I’ve read.

I will assume that Christopher deals with the points of contention I currently hold in a little more depth later on in the book and, when I finish the book shall write a more elaborate and lengthier engaged discourse but, for the time being I wish to air my current point of contention as the points made by Hitchens are shared almost universally across the atheist community.

So, without further ado, I shall present the passage I am going to counter as it is printed:

‘There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded in wish-thinking.’

As I have said, I’m sure Hitchens goes into great lengths throughout the book to substantiate all of these objections and I fully intend to engage with them on that wider level in the near future but, for now (call it a taster of a larger essay if you like) I shall be drawing only on the above passage to level my criticism.

Of these four objections, the first is by far the easiest to counter. It will suffice to say for now, without going in to great detail, that I reject that objection on the grounds that it is based entirely on an subjective assumption based on  some objective evidence. it is the same as me saying that, atheism is a flawed view because it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos. It’s a poor argument that I’d be making in the face of contrary evidence and I wouldn’t expect to find it in a leading atheist thinkers’ opening thesis.

I always like to assert the following when debating anyone on the subject of my religious faith verses their atheistic outlook:  My fundamental assumption that cannot be empirically substantiated is this: There is a creator God.  However, let’s not draw upon this assumption as our grounds for debate because, your fundamental assumption: there is no creator God, is equally as empirically unsubstantiated.

I believe Hitchens is making a similar error here when he asserts the first of his four objections.

The second objection can be dismissed quickly when one notes that it is based on the assumption that the first objection is factually correct. However, I don’t think this quite rises to the deeper underlying objection that religious faith can be perceived as combining,’the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism’. 

I would like to commend Hitchens on his use of language here as it really manages to capture not only a personal objection but also a hyperbolic form of expressing ones’self. Using the words, ‘maximum’ alongside a word contextualised in excess really is quite provocative. It is problematic though because it expresses a mistrust of,  ‘Abjectly submissive’ (http://goo.gl/FuS78rbehaviour. This mistrust is personal and doesn’t belong outside of the context in which it was written.

I hope i’m beginning to demonstrate that Hitchens’ second objection is entirely subjective and cannot be used as grounds to argue against religious faith. Just as my subjective experiences of God’s presence cannot be used in a similar discussion to substantiate my claims.

Hitchens’ third objection is interesting.

It can and will be noted here that there is a contextual extent to which Hitchens’ assertion holds some merit. I can only argue from my own perspective and therefore am only going to defend the Christian faith here on this blog. Because of this I can only say in passing that most major faith groups in the world have and are still actively involved in acts of sexual repression. The church is no different.

I have a theological position to take here that requires a blog post of its own to outline. I don’t want to detract from the central theme of my post so I shall not be going into detail about that position here (here’s an article I relate to concerning That debate: http://goo.gl/32IdKf).

This objection is difficult to address as it all depends on definition. Sexual repression is a dangerously ambiguous term as it is entirely dependant on several sets of contextual circumstances.  As it is Hitchens’ own objection I must wait until I write the larger article concerning his book. Because it is a personal thing though I can discredit it generally as it doesn’t pack any real punch to the debate on God’s existence or even his greatness.

And we come to Hitchens’ final and potentially most lethal objection. Religious faith is wish thinking. This is a polite way of saying exactly what Dawkins asserts: “Such delusions of grandeur to think that a God with a hundred billion galaxies on his mind would give a tuppenny damn who you sleep with, or indeed whether you believe in him.” (http://goo.gl/zpnFdh). 
Either way, the assertion is the same, in thinking wishfully rather than objectively, we (people of faith) are completely and entirely deluded. My brother, in a somewhat harsh tone, during a debate resorted to the following language to describe the extent of that delusion, ‘The very fact you describe yourself as a witness too [sic]  god healing people suggest signs of mental illness and I’d advise medical assistance, as hallucinations could be detrimental to your very existence.”. this is a very damaging way of talking to somebody else, it puts the asserter (that Christians etc. are deluded) into the position of superior and the assertee into the position of inferiority thus, making the field of conversation/debate entirely unfair and biased in favour of the side dealing the biggest blow.  Calling out somebody as being deluded without substantiating it is actually fallacious (Argumentum ad hominem).

I suppose it would be wise to draw some conclusions.

I was entirely surprised reading Hitchens’ introduction to his best seller that has been described thus: ‘the ultimate case against religion’.  It doesn’t appear to present anything of the sort. Instead, what I observe, is a series of arguments from a very personal position that make a case against Hitchens’ own view of what religious faith consists of but, it doesn’t attack the faith I personally have nor does it attack the faith I know millions of others follow.

I look forward to reading the book in its entirety and contemplating the bigger challenges it may present.

The Matrix is a system Neo….

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The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

-morpheus

The global conspiracy is out there people (or should I say sheeple?). There is a dark power behind the curtains pulling all the strings and keeping us enslaved. This power seeks to control us and render us mindless drones to its will.

I’m not going to lie, I get irritated at this kind of attitude. It’s absolutely everywhere right now. Ever seen the global phenomenon that is the zeitgeist movement? Or, heard the powerfully worded messages purported by notable figures like David Ike or Alex Jones? It’s everywhere. People talking to us as though they are enlightened and have uncovered this dark power behind everyday society. They use excitingly loaded language that implies we really do live in a matrix-like simulation.

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I have, in my friendship group, a list of friends (almost too many to count) who subscribe to this way of thinking one way or another. They will claim that institutions (or, as Louis Althusser would have called it, ‘ideological state apparatus’) such as our government, organized religion, the financial system etc, exist purely to control and manipulate the populace. They, rather smugly, spout that, they have removed themselves from this system and have become free people in the process. Far too enlightened for church, they lead us to believe that a life without religion is a liberated life. They proclaim that science has advanced beyond the need for blind faith and that anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their worldview is naive, misinformed and delusional.

I find this insulting. But, it is also a very clever play in their argument. In applying the deluded filter to any debate with a person of faith, you instantly tip the field of debate in your favor. If deluded becomes a premise rather than what it actually is (a misinformed assumption), then anyone of faith brave enough to subject themselves to a debate is fighting a loosing battle from the offset.

This is all slight digression, the reason I am writing this article isn’t to level the playing field once again. I am writing to suggest an alternative to the global power-struggle theory that dominates modern western pseudo philosophical thought.

I was watching an Attenborough documentary the other day and something struck me in his commentary.  It was a show about the origins of life and, right at the start, without a falter or hesitation Attenborough states the age of the earth as absolute fact without providing any evidence to support this claim.

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

Before this article is scoffed at, I would like to make some clarifications. I am not going to say, one way or the other, what side of the debate my own views fall on and I am not saying their isn’t evidence available for the theory of evolution. What I am saying is this, we are bombarder with information on the television, in the news and even in school that is presented to us as absolute fact when it simply isn’t the case. It is akin to me presenting to you the story of Jesus Christ as fact without providing evidence to support my assertion. Now, when a Christian does this, they are instantly dismissed for not having evidence however, the same can be applied to the non-believer.

I was in conversation with my brother, an ardent atheist and evolutionist (well, that is the world view he subscribes to, he certainly hasn’t contributed scientifically towards the theory nor does he practice in that field) regarding the subject of faith. He dismissed any points I made as whimsy and refuted by sighting that the theory of evolution is proven fact and destroys the need for a creator God. This is just not true. Evolution isn’t and has never been, proven fact. It is a well evidenced and supported theory with a lot going for it but, unless you are an expert in the field, it is ill-advised to quote conclusions made by practitioners and philosophers in the field as fact.

It is an act of faith to say in a debate with a person of religious faith, ‘I know we evolved from so and so because there is proof of it’ without knowing the evidence intimately. To refuse to believe in God because of what Dawkins, or Stephen Fry, or Ricky Gervais or, Sam Harris or any other famous Atheists say is as much an act of faith as to say I believe in God.

I’m not saying you must believe in one thing or the other. I’m saying, whatever you chose to believe in, do it because of your own research, your own investigation and not just pick the side with the loudest voice and argument.

I gave my life to follow Christ not because I was deluded or coerced, not because I was part of the brainwashed masses. I did it because I examined the world I lived in, I examined the evidence before my eyes and recognized room for a creator God. I examined the evidence put forward by people of faith and found that the Bible was entirely relevant to the way the world works. I found the evidence matched and was left with no choice but to admit, however improbable it may seem on the surface, Jesus did live, he did die and, to my astonishment and surprise did rise again. With this, I had no choice but to recognize this as truth and devote myself to God.

the evidence of God is everywhere romans 1 18 24

I cannot force you to believe this, I can’t even try. However, examine the evidence for yourself. There is nothing out there that I have seen that has been able to disprove God. There has been nothing I have seen to prove there is a God. However, the evidence appears to me to point towards God and Jesus.

I’d like to end with my alternative to the cultural paradigm offered above.

There is a conspiracy to control and subdue the masses. This evil lusts for a new world order in which the shadowy forces behind the scenes rule over mankind. People really do live in the matrix with the wool pulled tightly over their eyes. They are sold a false freedom by the new world order. This Freedom comes in the guise of freedom of consciousness, freedom to not believe.

This force is known as sin, it is controlled by the purveyor of evil, the deceptor, the serpent. It seeks to blind us to the truth that we can be free.

Someone has come to free us from the matrix, his name is Jesus and he defeats the deception. He opens our eyes to freedom and gives us an eternal future in paradise free from the manacles forged by the enemy.

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Finally, I’ve replaced the word matrix with sin.

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“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Sin

Do you want to know what it is?

Yes.

Sin is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

What truth?

That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

Religion sucks: Why I am not Religious.

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‘Wow’ I hear you shout, ‘he’s renounced his faith and turned back to his atheistic ways’,

I’m sorry to disappoint but, this is far from the case.

This post arises from my need to address something that comes up all too frequently in my discourses with non believers.

I always end up faced with an argument against religion or a religious institution and, find myself unable to mount a retaliation because I tend to agree with the arguments I face!

I think organised religion is one of the biggest problems this world faces.

Please don’t get me wrong though, I’m not out to fight a corner or even defend a corner. I’m not out to stir a pot or to accuse. This article is to simply dispel some myths regarding Christianity and organised religion!

I have just deleted a huge chunk of writing because I decided that I can tackle this topic much more succinctly by being simplistic.

Some of you might be surprised to learn that some of the most ardently and passionately anti religious texts exist within the Bible. One of my favourites has to be Galatians as it really bares down to the beautiful truth of being a Christian (Read that before you read this as Paul is much better at explaining things than I am).

Religion, in a modern/secular understanding of the word seems to me to mean something along the following lines:

A series of rules set out by a spiritual text and followed by people who believe this text to be divinely written. 

I think there’s obviously a bit more to it either side of the argument but, in essence I think that is how it is perceived, a process of rule following. 

I was skimming through Youtube just before bed last night (part of my nightly unwinding process) And I came across a video in which Ricky Gervaise talked about Religion.

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Ricky talked a little about his upbringing in a deprived area in which a mother’s hope for her child wasn’t found in said child becoming a Doctor or Lawyer etc but, instead, being that the child wouldn’t die in a bar-room brawl or something of a similar nature. He continued to explain that, for his family and I guess (by means of inference) plenty of other families, the best way to ensure a child’s survival was to instill good honest Christian Morals.  He goes on to explain that Christians don’t hold the monopoly on goodness and that he is perfectly capable of doing good things without a biblical incentive offered.

Whilst Ricky Gervais is, by no stretch of the imagination, a figurehead for atheism; nor, a leading thinker on these kinds of issues, he does sum up a popular secular view on Christianity.

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The problem with this view of Christianity is that it warps the priorities of any Christ Follower. You see what happens is, people start looking at Christianity as a moral example of lifestyle designed to control and manipulate and, that leads to an absolute perversion of the truth behind Christianity.

I might start sounding like a broken record here as I mention this fairly often but it is worth a recap. In Archery to, ‘sin’ is to miss the bullseye. Well, it is sort of like that in the bible.

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God created us to be in relationship with him eternally in perfection but, in disobeying God we chose to turn our backs on the created standard God set. In doing so, sin enters the world. Now sin is not simply bad behaviours and evil. Sin is ANYTHING that misses the bullseye set before us by God.

Now, to cut a biblically long story exceptionally short, Jesus is God’s incredible restorative solution to the problem of sin.

So, to turn back to the point at hand; the purpose of a Christ follower is a simple one. It is to follow Christ, accept that salvation comes through faith in Him alone and not by our deeds good or bad. That’s it. It isn’t about doing good stuff to get into heaven and it isn’t about casting judgement on those who don’t do good things.  When you accept the gift God has willingly given you and grasped how much we totally don’t deserve it your emotional centre can’t help but engage with that. When I was saved I said, ‘I want to follow Christ’s example” not, “I want to obey the 10 commandments”. Religion is the decision to observe the latter.

End rant.

Conversations with other Atheists….part 2

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Right, gotta be more on point this time!

It’s so easy to get carried away isn’t it?

So, just a quick recap…

I have decided to respond to, “tweets” sent to Richard Dawkins with the hashtag #Imanatheistbecause.

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Without further ado, let’s jump straight in with this one:

I became an atheist when I was told at church that it doesn’t what you do if you aren’t Christian you go to hell @RichardDawkins #Imanatheistbecause.
Well, this one’s  a fairly straight forward one to respond to.
There are two possible reasons why this person has come to this conclusion.
  • The leaders at this person’s Church were incompetent and taught a fundamentally flawed doctrine of salvation.
  • This person has drastically misunderstood the doctrine of salvation.
Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s what the bible has to say about it.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
So, because of the fall, the cost of mankind’s shortcomings before God is death. We all die! This verse refers to a little more than just physical death of course.
Let me use an illustration (I’m not the greatest of artists!) to show what I’m getting at here:
illustration of seperation
So we are one side of this huge  chasm that separates us from God.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23) 
I’ve added my own emphasis there because, ‘all’ is the key to this. There is no one on earth better than anyone else. We all come short of God’s standards.
It says a little later, in revelation:
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15) 
Basically, you get your name in the book of life when you realise the following:
  • That is you up there in that picture! You are separated from God by a huge gaping chasm of sin. But, don’t worry, we’re all in that position, you’re not alone!
  • God  has come up with a way for us to be reconciled to him, through Christ

 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18)

  • Accept this gift from God…… this is the easy bit, it’s a free gift (the best we’ll ever receive)

That’s it, your names down on the list….

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So you see… Despite wether this is a misinterpretation on the tweeter’s part, the Church who taught him about it or whatever, the point was lost in translation.

It isn’t a message of: If you’re not a christian you will burn in hell, that is such a warped interpretation.

The truth is much more elegant and beautiful. God loves us, always has, always will; we overlooked that in favour of self gratification. We rejected God. God says, that’s cool, if you want that then you can have that for eternity. However, if you want to regain that original relationship, you can do it simply by receiving the gift of Christ on the cross.

I’ve done it again haven’t I?

I picked out a simple one at the start with the hope of having time and space for a few tweets and responses but, i’ve gone off on one!

Consider this a bonus, it means you will get loads more posts! You lucky so and so’s…

Love.

Conversations with other atheists….

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Richard-Dawkins-Devil

I was browsing the web the other night, looking for something to keep my brain ticking by and I stumbled across a friend’s link to, ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ Mr Richard Dawkins’ blog. There was a very interesting thread on there asking people to respond in a twitter style (hashtags and 140 character count) to the following: I’m an Atheist because. This got my creative juices flowing and I thought to myself, ‘I’d love to make a blog post about this’.

After much thinking, I feel the best way would be to share a few of the responses on his site (anonymously) and write a little bit of a thought or refutation of my own based on what has been said. There are literally thousands of these, “tweets” and I only copied about a hundred or so. So, please don’t expect me to trawl through the lot of them but, I shall answer some of the ones I find most intriguing or urgent!

Without further ado…..

@RichardDawkins u know, those RC priests worked real hard for 19 years to keep me brainwashed, & with one fell swoop u undid everything. #Imanatheistbecause

I actually find it surprising just how many people i’ve heard say pretty similar things to this. The worse thing is, I’m sort of on this guy’s side!  There are some huge underlying issues here which I could quite happily fill a fortnight’s worth of blogposts with. I will, thankfully, save you that pain. However, there are still a few important issues to adress here.

If we disregard the fact that this guy was, “enlightened” by Dawkins for the time being and focus on where this guy’s problems with faith lie….

I don’t have a problem with the Roman Catholic church per se, there are some great Christians within it but, as a religious organisation with countless wealth and power, I have some huge problems.

First, the big underlying problem that comes to the foreground all too frequently is the issues concerning child abuse and corruption in the Church. This is a very well documented controversy and I shall not elaborate too much but, it is a huge problem facing an organisation that should be glorifying God.

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Secondly, the Catholic church favour some odd practices and doctrines. I’m not the most theologically educated of Christians and, for that matter, not the most mature of Christians so I feel slightly out of place commenting on their theology. I’ll keep it brief…   There is no mediator between man and God with the exception being found only in Christ (but Christ and God are the same and you shouldn’t really see Christ as merely a mediator). Why on earth do catholics feel the need to sit themselves in a musky box and tell a priest their sins before they bring them to God?

And, thirdly, what’s with the Mary worship? I could recommend a good timothy keller book to the Mary worshipers… I agree that Mary was a fine example of a good Godly woman. I agree that she should be remembered in that sense but, let’s remember what Jesus himself said about worshipping Mary:

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28)

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Ok, it’s happening again isn’t it, I’m getting carried away to digression-land again!

Back on point, The guy is talking about being brainwashed by his Roman Catholic Priests and, I genuinely sympathise with that. I’ve heard a few Catholic preaches in my time and one thing that I can say, from my own experience, is that they have a tendency to ram doctrine down your throat.  It’s not that I disagree with all of their doctrines (It’s the opposite actually, I really do agree with a lot of their doctrines), it’s more the style of delivery. A good man once told me that you can win an argument and loose the person. This is one of my biggest issues with my own character and, as a result, it’s close to my heart. I think that the style of Catholic indoctrination this tweeter is referring to is close to abhorrent! It’s certainly not how you win people over to the glory of God’s kingdom.

So we have a dissatisfied, clearly quite passionate young tweeter who has become dissolusioned with his upbringing into a Roman Catholic form of relligious practice, along comes hyper-charismatic Dawkins with a well thought out, intelligent and rational argument and this guy is won over! My challenge to any charismatic type Christians who happen to be reading is this: What can we do to insure that those who are becoming disillusioned with their religious upbringing, meet with Christ??

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Looking back on this post, it is apparent that I have a lot to say in response to these tweets and certainly won’t be able to squeeze a hundred or so tweets into this single post. With that in mind, it’s clear that there’s room for that wonderful opportunity in the life of a blogger: the series! I shall make this, ‘conversations with other atheists’ into a series of posts responding directly to atheist questions and arguments. 

Catching Up with God’s plans…

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I am aware that the title of this blog may come across as almost blasphemous but, bear with it, it is there for a good reason!

I was having one of my regular catch up chats with Gem’s Dad the other evening. It was a lengthy one covering all areas and aspects of each other’s daily lives.  You know the sort, the meaty kind of conversation where you really feel like you know the person more intimately afterwards. It was a great chat.

Anyway, during the conversation, we began to look at what sort of stuff had been happening in each of our lives over the last three or so years. As we began to dissect, we soon realised just how linked everything was, like stuff that had happened to me was directly related by stuff he had experienced. It honestly felt like I had been woven in to the family and the family story now included myself.

The huge upshot to all of this is it allowed us to work out where God was in all of this. It rapidly became apparent that the answer was everywhere. It really feels, without going into too much detail of the conversation, that God was so much part of the fabric of every major decision, twist and turn in our recent lives.

This brought us to the realisation that we had stumbled across a snippet of God’s plan for us. We had glimpsed the path we were walking on. I would argue, quite within reason I think, that God’s entire plan can never be fully known by anyone other than God himself. I mean, there will be parts that come to us via revelation (both general and specific) but we will never fully cotton on to the entirety of it.

This of course is a great thing, it certainly keeps me feeling sane and grounded! But, it was really fantastic to catch a glimpse of part of the bigger picture. It was one of those moments when you suddenly realise everything, including hardships (of which there have been many for both of us) all point in the same direction.

What I feel comes from this kind of experience, more than anything else, is this overwhelming sense of reassurance. I mean, we have both been through some pretty tough stuff and, when we realised that this fit into what looked like God’s plan just as precisely as the nice stuff, well, you can’t help but feel confident that God knows best.

I know we are expected to feel like this, I know it is something a Christian society values quite highly but, trust in God doesn’t always come so easily.

I was away last week with a bunch of Christians at a very charismatic  spirit lead, conference. It was great. One thing I didn’t expect to encounter was people like me. People who love and want to follow God but, despite this, still have fear-lead doubts. People who, despite of their continued efforts to follow Christ’s example, still valued self-reliance higher than a pure trust in God.

The implications of this for me, when me and Gem’s dad stumbled upon a tiny bit of God’s plan, were monumental. It meant, that I had no other alternative than to be entirely humbled by God. I had to come to terms with my lack of trust up until this moment and learn, in an instant, that God’s power is way beyond my comprehension. I had to learn to trust God.

Since this experience it has been a rocky road. As most Christians that have had such a revelation come upon them will tell you, adjusting your course because of said revelation is never a smooth ride. God has this cleverly quirky ways of putting you through your paces when you make a revelation induced vow to him. Now that I have vowed to trust God more than ever before God has smiled and answered by putting that trust to the test.

This is all very fresh having only happened this weekend and I shall not fill this post with examples of the tests of trust I have, thus far, faced. However, expect a post in the near future detailing some of the obstacles and ways I have overcome them.

In Love,

Joe x