Questfirmation

Question_Puzzle

So why exactly did we have “Questfirmation” at last night’s OHG? Well, it has to do with our young friend Anthony, where he is in his own faith(?) journey, and what we wanted to confirm in him because of that.

Anthony’s like a lot of young people, in that he doesn’t really believe all the traditional things a traditional Christian community affrims. So in this celebration of Confirmation, we wanted to confirm the Holy Spirit on Anthony in a different way, and affirm that he doesn’t really affirm the same things most Christian do.

So if you’re interested, pay our OHG Facebook page a visit, and see pictures of the celebration. And when you can make the time, check out Anthony’s statement of faith(?) that he wrote, below, that summarizes so well all he’s been thinking about through this Questfirmation porcess. It brings tears to my eyes to see such a yonug mind awake, and affirms that we have all thoroughly corrupted our OHG young people so beautifully well. Thank you, Anthony, for your mind and heart alive and active among us!

-Rev. -DTF

Confirmation Paper

To begin, we’ll start with the Bible. My favorite part has to be about the couple being killed for defrauding the church. I know this isn’t exactly the best behavior on the couple’s part but nevertheless it doesn’t warrant “murder.” Now obviously God didn’t kill them. This story probably never even happened or if it did, was greatly exaggerated. The Bible has many flaws and most rational people seem to agree upon this. For one, it contradicts itself with the Old Testament and the New Testament. One says ‘do this’ and one says ‘don’t do that’ and people seem to take this in stride.

The philosophy of Jesus is great and I can see why individuals follow it. It certainly doesn’t serve as a governing philosophy for a country, however.
I digress. The Bible is both historically and scientifically false. Maybe there’s a gray area, and maybe it’s a big gray area, but there are an extreme amount of inaccuracies, nonetheless. For one, a lot of it contradicts facts. The science in particular. Which parts do I take literally? Which parts do I interpret to mean something different? Any parts that work and fit your logic, I suppose.

That makes another problem to picking and choosing outside of the teachings of Jesus. Shouldn’t one, when reading something, embrace all of it? That’s one area where progressive beliefs are illogical. Progressive Christians pick and choose the most of any dominations. While it is borderline stupid to believe the earth was created in six days and is only 5,000 years old, it’s highly irrational to interpret something for whatever you want to believe. While I believe all religion is illogical, the work of the Bible stands out in particular.

Again, I certainly believe in Jesus’ teachings and what he said. He probably lived and even said of these things. But that fact that so much of the Bible is so obviously false puts it atop the fiction list for me.

One can certainly speak for days about the Bible and its shortcomings, so what about a touch on the positive side? I think that most of the New Testament is generally rational, the gospels in particular. I really enjoyed reading the gospels, actually. It was fascinating to read Jesus’ story, despite what I believe about the accuracy of it. This is another subject, however.

I also did enjoy the stories overall, as well, and their messages. I think one can read these stories as philosophies and proverb like passages and simply take the good. But see, even I am picking and choosing with that.

That brings us to God. Well, God is a very broad word with a very broad meaning. And while we’re at it, which God are we talking about? Yahweh? Allah? Zeus? The Christian Judeo one? Poseidon? Thor? A flying spaghetti monster? When one uses the term God, what is he or she talking about? Well, I suppose we’re talking about the Christian Judeo God and Yahweh.

‘Where did the earth come from?’ ‘God.’ ‘Okay, where did God come from?’ ‘God was, is, and always will be.’ Well, see, that’s not an answer, actually. I often find myself having that almost exact same dialogue with believers. I would say the earth, and the universe, came from the big bang. Okay, that’s science and what we call a fact. Some Believers say well, no, the earth was created in six days as it says in Genesis, clear as day; it says six days and one to rest. The other set of Believers say we can’t understand God’s definition of time, so six days could be anything, which is just as bad, if not worse, because it says six days. It literally labels the days: Day one, day two, and so forth at the end of each day of creation.
So, the question remains, what God actually is the God? I’m only discussing the Christian God because we’re in a culture that is heavily Christian. It is a pure happenstance that we profess to believe in the Christian God. Nonetheless, here I am writing about it.

So, when someone asks me if I believe in God, I will undoubtedly reply with, “Which one?”

Prayer at sunset

Church: do the positives outweigh the negatives? The answer, simply, is no. Now, no one is arguing that church doesn’t do positive things. Church provides people with shelter, food, connection with their communities, a possible direction for their lives, and a place to worship what they believe in. These are just a few things. The buck stops there, however. What about the fueling of hatred, ignorance and oppression of people? Slavery then, homophobia now and what’s next? Of course, one could talk for hours about the Catholic Church, but for the sake of time, we’ll say that’s just assumed. There isn’t much to say about the church, or church in general, without tiptoeing on to other areas so we’ll move on.
Religion, in all its glory, is the centerpiece of most, if not all, civilizations, today and throughout history. Religion, or maybe faith more appropriately, is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking. So, why are people so inclined to be religious? Fear? Ignorance? Indoctrination? It’s a happy combination of the three. I daresay, without religion, we would be a much more peaceful, and advanced people. We wouldn’t have to argue about global warming, evolution, and millions, if not hundreds of millions, of lives would have been saved. Yet, here we are in the twenty-first century and we’re still arguing about whether or not climate change is real. Sure, there have been some positive outcomes from religious practices like I listed above, but none that are worth the genocides and depolarization of facts that we have had to deal with and still do and probably always will have to deal with. I could go on and on about religion, maybe even write a book about it, but time is short.

Let’s look at Jesus and compassion together, since they go hand in hand. Jesus talked about compassion all the time: ‘Love your neighbor.’ That is the most basic, yet most encompassing quote to be found about compassion. Jesus preached about how you need to love the poor, your enemies, everybody. He wanted you, us, to have compassion for everyone and everything. He was a hippie. Everything written in the gospels about Jesus is awesome. I could live by everything Jesus said and did and I would be a great person and people would love me. However, humans are a vengeful and spiteful people and we like violence, so the Jesus philosophy works in theory and only sometimes in practice. That isn’t to shoot down what Jesus said, there just has to be a level of reality involved.

Building on that, if a person chooses to live as Jesus lived, that person will, for the most part, have a long life, full of peace and productivity. If I stop and think, what would Jesus do, I will survive most everyday situations.
That brings us to salvation and the cross, which also go hand in hand. Jesus, for all accounts, was crucified on the cross, so we’ll say that is truth. Did he rise three days later? I don’t know. It’s impossible to know. Did he die so we could have salvation? In a sense, yes. Jesus gave us teachings, lessons, philosophies that have lasted over 2,000 years and changed the way people think. Maybe we have salvation in the sense that Jesus taught peace that was unheard of at the time. Do we have ultimate salvation? Again, it’s impossible to know. I lean towards no, but no one can say for sure.

Asking the question ‘Did he rise three days later?’ is more critical to faith than ‘Do you believe in God?’ simply because the former is so much more complex. Be that as it may, I simply don’t know, I cannot profess to know one way or the other, and I will probably never know. Nor will anyone know, for that matter. I am inclined, however, to believe it may not have happened.

I am not a proponent of religion and I have made that abundantly clear. I believe in science, logic, and rational thought. The rest is up in the air.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow! I am not even sure where to begin with your comments. First, I value your right of freedom of speech and freedom of religious rights, I hope you will value mine as well. I am not speaking to attack Anthony’s freedom to choose his religion, or no religion at all. I am trying to think critically about his letter and it seems as though he has contradicted himself in many areas. Anthony, can you explain this quote “Religion, or maybe faith more appropriately, is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking.” and then further explain how you can say, “I am not a proponent of religion and I have made that abundantly clear. I believe in science, logic, and rational thought. The rest is up in the air.” Then, are you not relying on your own faith in the ability of your mind (ability to think critically) to understand the origin of the world and life? Yet, you say that faith is “the purposeful suspension of critical thinking”, and in so saying so you have negated your own faith in your ability to think critically, interesting indeed! So, is your answer that you have no answer? Am I understanding you clearly now?

    Reply
  2. Tabatha, I am not sure if Anthony will see this comment or not, so I will let him know about it. Thanks for such good questions!

    -Rev. -DTF

    Reply
  3. Dennis,

    You say, “So, when someone asks me if I believe in God, I will undoubtedly reply with, ‘Which one?’”

    To answer your question above: There is only one God who pays the penalty for sin. Mark 10:45 states: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

    Jesus Christ came not to be served but to die, to give His life. That sets Him apart from the founder of every other religion.Their purpose was to live and be an example; Jesus’ purpose was ultimately to die and be a sacrifice.

    Until we realize our desperate and sinful condition we will never be ushered into truth. The door into the knowledge of the one true and living God is found through repentance. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

    I am an Associate Pastor at Parkwood Baptist Church. I would love to meet with you and go through the Gospel of Mark together. If you agree, I promise to lovingly lead you into the joy of Jesus Christ. We will look into all your questions, and see what the Bible says concerning each issue. – Lunch will be on me ;)

    Please email me if you would like to meet for Bible study: robbiewoods@parkwoodonline.org

    Reply
  4. Obviously you didn’t comprehend that I meant religious faith since it was a paper about religion. I thought that was implied. I’ll be sure to be more specific in the future. I don’t have my mind. I have facts, or lack of facts, to prove my point. Because I don’t proclaim to believe in a God, I don’t need faith. There is no factual evidence of god. I don’t believe in science. I know science is the truth. No faith required.

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  5. Robbie, if you’d make the time to read the whole post, you’d see that I didn’t write these meditations. Anthony did, as part of his Confirmation (what we’ve also started to call Questfirmation for him). I will let him know of your comment, and I’m sure you’ll get a reply.

    -Rev. -DTF

    Reply
  6. Robbie, I think I addressed everything you said in my paper. However, I would love to talk to you about this sometime in more detail.

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  7. Great Anthony! Can you meet sometime in Gastonia for lunch? What is your schedule?

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  8. Anthony,
    Actually, you did make it abundantly clear that you are not a proponent of religion. My point is that lack of faith in God, is still faith in something else. Science explanations will only take you so far also, and then you are left yet again with faith. So, where does your faith lie? My faith is not of my own works, but yet a gift from God. Read Martin Luther’s words here and tell me your thoughts….
    “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.” – Martin Luther

    I understand that my faith doesn’t originate with me. It is a gift from God, so that no man can boast. I understand that you don’t believe in God, but do believe that Jesus lived (even though you don’t believe He is the Son of God). My words for you is that while you look at Jesus and say he did good works for us to follow, and He indeed did; yet, the question you should ask yourself is why did he do those things? Was it just merely for us to be a moral person and go about the earth spreading Goodwill or was there something more profound that He was pointing toward?

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  9. Dear All:

    Thanks for taking the time to read my son’s paper and reply to him in a respectful manner. Good luck in trying to get him to change his mind. Believe me, I have tried and finally just gave up. Quoting the Bible will not help because he already knows the Bible. Its many contradictions are a big part of what has led him to his current bleifs.

    As a young adult, I began to find the cornerstone of Christianity increasingly difficult to comprehend. The blood sacrifice of Jesus horrifes me. That and the “I love you and will forgive you all but if you don’t believe in me and only me I am going to roast you in flames for eternity’ creed. And while I rejected the church I was raised in, I still believe in God and Jesus and wanted my child to have that comfort and sense of love, awe and wonder. Over the years, we took him to various and sundry churches in an effort to instill the love of God and the teachings of Jesus in him. Enter our athiest neighbor when Anthony was 12. That, as well as the extreme and ridiculousness of fundamentalism pretty much crushed all of my efforts. Add to the mix a knowedge of comparative religion and the history of Christianity. Still, I believe, if not as you do, perhaps, but I do believe in God and Christ. I was blessed to find Open Hearts, where he sees community, commitment to Christ’s social gospel, Gods love, morality and a knowledge of other faiths. Where his questions and non-beliefs are accepted and not judged. I ask God to love my son despite his non-beliefs and doubts and I believe God does. And no, I don’t think he will burn in eternal flames. Peace!

    Reply
    • You said, “I ask God to love my son despite his non-beliefs and doubts and I believe God does.” On what basis? If God loves us by sweeping sin under the rug then He is not a good God. Also, to say God loves also implies that he hates. The Bible hates sin. We are all under the wrath of God because we all sin. He does not compare us to other people’s standards. He compares us to Himself, and the Bible teaches His righteousness is perfect. This is why Jesus came. When we repent of our sin and embrace His finished work on the Cross we are judicially credited with the perfect righteousness of God. Christ shelters those who believe in Him from the wrath of God. The wrath of God exists because His righteousness is worth upholding.

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  10. PS; I very much like the words of Martin Luther.
    How can I hear music, or laughter, or see snow fall and flowers bloom and not believe in God?:)

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  11. Here’s what I’m hearing; “Science cannot explain it, so therefore it is God.” We call this the God of the Gaps. Pretty standard stuff: Once upon a time science couldn’t explain the sun. Does that mean it isnt real?

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    • You are right about your understanding of the God of the gaps, but this is it not the portrait of the God of the Bible. Suppose you were studying an engine and you did not not how the 8th cylinder fired. It would be silly to say Henry Ford is making it work. That is the God of gaps theory.

      Rather, the Bible presents the God who created the whole show. Think about it: Science may explain why the 8th cylinder fires, but the necessity of Henry Ford is still a relevant explanation. Henry Ford answers the why question.You need both the how and the why to have a full picture of the meaning of life. Science cannot answer the why questions it can only answer the how.

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  12. Anthony,
    Who is the “we” you are referring to? Are you assigning yourself a “title” with another group of individuals who have a set of beliefs that you are so adamantly opposed?

    No, my God isn’t the “God of the Gaps”, I am very familiar with the philosophy behind your thinking. He is the God in the gap that made the way for sinners to reconcile with a Holy, Righteous God.
    (More on this below.)

    Your mom was very sweet to post on here as well. I can tell she loves you very much.. I am not attempting to change your mind (as I stated before…faith is a gift from God…He originated faith within me). If God hadn’t given me the gift of faith, I wouldn’t be a believer either. Please don’t mistake my writings here as a vain attempt to argue with you or be unloving. Instead, think of it this way…I am a Christian so confident in the fact that there is only one God and only one way to that God and I know that the most loving thing in this world that I can do is to share that with other people. To share my faith with you and pray that God would give you the gift of faith, that is the most loving thing I could do!

    Here is more of a response about your “God of the Gaps” thinking…

    “When we do look to Scripture, and its philosophical implications, we see that God has intervened directly. When operating from a historical perspective of Scripture, we also find that science cannot in principle show that He has not intervened in the manner that the god-of-the-gaps argument assumes. Yet, because God has acted, we also expect that science can provide evidentiary support for such an occurrence. God’s normal interaction with His creation, since the creation itself, is in terms of order and stability—what we consider ‘natural law.’ By restoring a self-consciously biblical approach to the sciences, the Christian testimony of a God who can and has intervened directly in nature is no longer a theoretical problem. It is instead the foundation of a workable—the workable—paradigm of science.” — Lael Weinberger

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  13. Furthermore…
    The Bible says, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Don’t be content with a shallow belief, but by faith commit your life to Christ and trust Him alone for your salvation.

    Satan believes that God exists, but most surely isn’t going to Heaven.

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  14. The answer most people give to the question: “Why am I here?” is this…

    1) I am living to be free. To find my passion. To live with all my heart, therefore I AM FREE, and nobody can tell me how to live.

    - This is untenable. Why? You really want freedom? If you want freedom, then you have to admit the utter meaninglessness of life. Yet, nobody can truly live that way.

    “We modern people believe in absolute freedom. Many of us don’t believe in God at all. Many of us don’t believe in a god that you can know. Therefore, we believe in no God, or no God you can really know because we believe in freedom. If there was a God we could know, who told us how we had to live, and who gave us the rules and regulations, well, then we wouldn’t be free, but because we believe in freedom and because we don’t believe any traditional views of God…we are free, but if were free, we are all like Sisyphus.” – Albert Camus

    - If you want to know true freedom come to Christ. He states: “All who are weary and burdened will find rest in me (Jesus).” – The truth will set you free .

    - If you want to know the meaning of Sisyphus email me at robbiewoods@parkwoodonline.org – Love to sit and chat…

    Reply

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