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New Vision

By BlackFreethought ~

During this last foray into Christianity I held more progressive views of scripture than before. I now realize that I spent a lot of time in self-deception. In trying to discover an alternative or progressive view of scripture, I told myself that what I read wasn't really what I read. In other words, this scripture does not mean what is written or how it has been traditionally interpreted; it means something completely different. The more I tried to find different interpretations of certain Bible verses, the more I could see how the traditional positions carried more weight in the church.

The irony is the more I studied the Bible, the more faith it took to believe the claims it produced. As I took the scriptures out of the esteemed philosophic ether and placed it into a historic context, I saw a book edited and written with various agendas in mind.

It was already going to be difficult for me to be a Christian who no longer believed in the devil, heaven, hell, the virgin birth, a triune God, a physical resurrection from the dead with an ascension into the clouds. I attempted to view these and other fundamental Christian tenants as non-literal and allegorical.

I thought that after disregarding my literal belief in the miracles and mythological stories of the Bible that I would just be able to follow the moral teachings of Jesus, Paul and the other new testament writers. I decided to live out the teaching of Jesus yet even as I delved deeper, I didn't see the "Prince of Peace". What I saw was an apocalyptic preacher who based his teaching on the idea that the world was swiftly coming to an end.

I discovered a religious leader who thought his community was superior to other communities within the diverse Roman world of the 1st Century CE. I could no longer see a so-called radical message of love that progressive Christians regularly say about Jesus. I saw a hateful leader who called non-jewish people "dogs" and "pigs". These were two major insults in 1st Century Palestine. Instead of unity, I saw a religious separatism and perceived moral superiority that plagues the world to this day.

When I re-read the Sermon on the Mount, I discovered teachings that more ordinary than revolutionary. However I found it difficult to follow these "moral" teachings because they were so out of touch with my internal moral compass. Where I once felt power and everlasting love, I now felt nothing in particular.

I was foolish to think that I could maintain my rationality, reason, and practice a non-literal progressive form of Christianity.I was foolish to think that I could maintain my rationality, reason, and practice a non-literal progressive form of Christianity. I hoped to bridge the gap between my faith and understanding of science. I spent the greater part of 2016 wrestling with the cognitive dissonance that comes from returning to Christianity after previously letting go of my faith.

The progressive and the fundamentalist Christian, although they disagree on various theological ideas, agree that everything in the universe started with the god of the Bible. After learning more and more about what astronomers, physicists, biologists, and other scientist discovered about the universe made it more difficult for me to see "God" as the first cause. I knew that I would have to choose which was more important: living my life based on the traditional, regularly reheated theological babble of Christianity or a life where modern science and humanist principles inform my life decisions.

I have outgrown Christianity and all of its outdated tenants, mythological ideas, anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, militarism, and blatant sexism. I do not desire to belong to a group that foster these ideas. Although the progressive wing of the faith does its best to be accommodating and inclusive, ultimately the foundational elements of Christianity prevent them from going to bat on behalf of the non believers. Christianity at it's core is about getting people to join their group and believe that by joining their group one can stop a wrathful god from exacting everlasting judgement on those who do not join.

I am tired of believing in that nonsense and choose to live by humanist principles. I am free!

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