***Spoiler Alert – This is gonna be long and controversial but I have lots of thoughts this morning***
Back story – I grew up in a Christian home going to church every Sunday, Wednesday, and even Thursday or Saturday some weeks.
What I don’t understand about Christianity (or rather any organized religion – and don’t try to say Christianity is a “personal relationship with God” not “organized religion” because it is still an organized group of people believing in the same thing). Anyway, what I don’t understand is the discouraging of questions. Oh you may ask questions, but you’ll get canned answers referring to the Bible (which to me is like using a word to define itself).
I’ve always had a questioning attitude. WHY are things done like this? HOW does this work? Ask my mom and school teachers, I guess I was pretty annoying with all my questions. Although, the place I never asked questions or the subject I never asked questions about; Church, the Bible.
Every religious leader in my life (except one – who also seemed to have a questioning attitude) gave me the impression that if I questioned why we believe the Bible or how it came into being, I would be doubting God and probably going to hell and that was a BIG crime and punishment for a little girl. So I never questioned.
I followed blindly. “Oh yes, no question about it, this is the way, the ONLY way. Yes, of course this is what I believe.” In a way, I was a slave. When you take away my ability to question, you take away my freedom. I am now yours, to do whatever you say whenever you say it because I don’t want to go to hell.
I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders when the first (out of many) Christian teachers of my life encouraged me to question. I can still remember how free I felt! It was as if someone had ripped duct tape from my mouth that I hadn’t even realize was there. I was filled with questions and he wasn’t afraid to answer them unconventionally or even say he didn’t know the answer, but he’d try to find it. I don’t talk to or see him as much as I’d like to, but when I think about those days I feel a great surge of love and appreciation for him and what he did for my spirit.
As I grew older I started asking more questions, bigger questions, and soon things were taking on a completely different look. The Bible is no longer this Holy Grail to be viewed as a book fallen from the heavens and God’s own lips, but as a history book. The Church was no longer a family, but a shepherd and his flock (following the shepherd to this hill or that, eating up whatever he leads them to without worrying about whether it is real grass or Astroturf). Pastors became greedy, adulterering embezzlers. Family members became acquaintances (what Christian wants to associate with a very verbal, questioning “non-believer”).
But turning from my childhood teachings didn’t make me a bad person (like I thought it would). Forsaking my religious affiliations didn’t make me an atheist (like I was taught it would). Believing the Bible is NOT the written “Word of God” did not turn me into a fire-breathing heathen (like I was brainwashed to believe it would). I’m still a good person. If anything I’m more accepting, more loving than I ever was. I’m more accepting of other cultures and religious views. I can listen to a view that contradicts my own without feeling a surge of judgment and condemnation for the person who holds that view. I’m more loving and less judgmental than I’ve seen most Christians be for even a second of their lives.
Sure pastors and Sunday school teachers would tell you to love your enemy and all “sinners”, but I never saw them put it into practice…unless they were trying to covert the person and even then sometimes it was a very “tough love”, as they would have called it. If they were trying to convince someone that their way was the best and the person raised the type of questions I had/have, the devil had a grip on that person’s heart and prayer was going to be the only way to save them. Wait, what?? Why not answer their questions? Oh, that’s right. If you try to answer those questions it might unravel that foundation of “stone” that you stand on.
I guess that’s one area I’m less tolerant. I spent 18-19 years listening to the same words and now that I have begun to get answers to my questions, I’m less tolerant of Christianity. I now understand why so many people believe Christians to be intolerant and hypocritical. They preach “love thy neighbor” and yet, they don’t associate lovingly with anyone who doesn’t (and never will) believe the way they believe. I can’t think of a single instance where I saw my Christian leaders “fraternizing” with anyone from another religion unless it was some sort of exercise to “win the person’s heart for Christ”.
So here are some questions I’ve had (and am researching or have already found answers to – those answers being what changed my perspective completely) that I want answers to. These are questions mainly centered around Christianity and the Bible because that’s what I grew up in.
(Answers cannot be anything similar to “God through man”, “because Jesus says to…”, or “because the Bible says…” Because I’ve already heard those answers and they are too canned and scripted for me to take them seriously anymore.)
Who wrote the Bible?
Who chose the books of the Bible?
Why should I make the Bible the foundation for everything I believe?
Why is Jesus the ONLY way to heaven?
Why is every other religion (other than yours, whatever that may be) wrong?
Can science and God coexist?
If yes, why?
If no, why not?
How can you be sure there is a heaven or hell?
If there is a heaven, can I still get in if I believe in God, but don’t believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to Him?
If Jesus is the only way, since I said the prayer and accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 7, does that mean that I’m still going to heaven even if my ideas of what/who Jesus was have changed? (I mean considering on that day he was cleaning me of all my sin, past, present, and future, right?)
I know it’s been a long time since I posted and this is a pretty heavy post to launch into after such a long absence, but hey, at least it’s something. I guess it also wasn’t as long as I thought it’d be.