Religion becomes a dark and dangerous tool in the wrong hands.
I visited a website called Do What’s Right today and was saddened by the reception to some comments I made.
I believe, very strongly, in the better aspects of religion. I am interested in other points of view and although I am an atheist (or perhaps pantheist might be more accurate) religion has done much to soothe my soul. Assuming I have one of course.
But what I do believe in, most strongly, is inclusivity. I read the Psalms now and then and attend church (occasionally!) for beauty and inspiration. I am currently practicing Vierne’s Messe Solennelle for a concert in March at a local Catholic Church (even though I was brought up as a Protestant in the Church of England). The historical Jesus ( at least as reflected in the Christian Gospels) is my idea of a good egg. A very good egg.
But I am also a modern man. A strong believer in science and looking forward. I do not believe it useful to look backwards to a non existent golden age. I do not believe in Jean Jacque Rousseaus Noble Savage. Or was it Dryden’s? I do not believe in nonsensical dogma. The Fall! The Trinity! The Divinity of Christ! It was a very different era, first Century Rome. We should not be bound by the superstitions early Christians chose to amuse themselves with.
Goodness, decency, right thinking yes. The Lake of Gehenna, The Fall, Eternal Damnation – get a life.
I detest extremism in any form. Be it in Islam, Christianity or indeed in any sector of our fractured global society.
I was at an evangelical wedding in the Summer and was disturbed by the exclusive nature of some of the guests and clergy. “We Christians” seemed to be their attitude and they even used their own curious language, in that they attributed non standard meanings to many words they cared to use in their sermon. A wife had to obey a husband apparently – although the clergyman argued that in their interpretation “obey” didn’t mean “obey” at all. Curiouser and curiouser cried Alice.
The last of my comments was deleted by the over zealous website “pastor” but hey, that’s his privilege and his loss.
My mission in life is to behave better and be kinder to those around me. I do not need an external god to do that nor do I need his approval or benediction. Nonetheless the sentiments expressed in religious writings can be of great use. The Book of Psalms for instance.
All that means is that you are an outsider to us
I do not believe that any human is an outsider and nor did the historical Jesus. He managed to turn the other cheek and invite the outcast into his inner enclave. Many problems have resulted through religion and each particular faith’s exclusivity and determination that they and only they have the “Way”.
The teachings of any half decent religion are identical once you discount the dogma and the requirement to believe in a supernatural entity.
I too am a pastor in a sense but an inclusive one. In my “Book” any decent human being is welcome and entrance is denied to none. In my book nobody is an outsider – we all struggle with the same issues and the same existential and physical anxieties.
This is not a forum for scholarly debate. You are mistaken about a great many things, missing the point on what Jesus actually said. He willingly died on the Cross because mankind is fallen and incapable of arriving at truth and God’s favor without God’s help. We are designed to know the truth, but we come into this life broken by the Curse of the Fall. The human reason is simply not up to the task. You remain an outsider until you accept the teachings of Jesus as they stand in the Bible. Your “historical Jesus” is a man-made lie.
AG (but the following was deleted by the website owner)
With the greatest of the respect, Jesus taught tolerance and inclusion. I am merely saying that I believe exclusion to be a misinterpretation of what the historical Jesus was all about. He was a good man, a great man and the Beatitudes are a fine framework on which to build one’s life. I believe the world has a very great need for tolerance, peace and understanding and this can only arise if all sects, all cults can come to understand each other and embrace each others views.
I have studied religion for many years and happen to find the most peace, meaning and solace in Eastern religion. That does not mean that I do not appreciate Christian teachings even though I do not believe in the Christian God or the divinity of Jesus. “We are designed to know the truth” – with that I can concur. But we will find it in Teilhard de Chardin or Frank Tipler.
Learning, wisdom, knowledge, sagacity and, importantly, science are what will bring a better world. And there was no “fall” – merely an evolutionary process which has resulted in a very imperfect species of ape we call humanity. So please accept my comments in the spirit in which they are written – a spirit of helpfulness and inclusivity. Christianity is all about tolerance and helping the lion to lie with the lamb. Or at least that is what many or even most modern Christians feel, including our English archbishop and our next British King – who describes himself as a defender of “Faiths”.