November 23, 2013

Paradox; Challenge to Atheists and Christians


Here's something for y'all to think about: 
both atheists and Christians are wrong in their thinking about the Bible and religion... and for the same reason! Neither atheists (as self-described) nor Christians (the bench-warming, 90%) actually read the Bible and have any genuine understanding of it. 
For that lack of knowledge, both groups come to erroneous-- and opposite-- views concerning spiritual reality. Now that both sides are annoyed, let me explain before you hit the 'x'.

1. The Christian Conundrum

Christians say they get their knowledge from the Bible... unless they're Catholic, and get their religion 'second-hand,' being interpreted for them from scripture by a self-appointed layer of clergy and church scholars. Protestant Christians claim they rely purely on scripture for their religion; but there's two big problems here. First, if that claim is true, then how can there be such widely differing understandings of the same scriptures among different camps? Second, the vast majority of Protestants simply accept the interpretation of scripture handed down by the denominational authorities of the church to which they 'belong' (note wording). In other words, these Protestants are no different than Catholics in how they get their religion!

Proof of the diversity of 'truths' exhibited by the modern 'Christian church' (whatever it may be) is the profusion of 'isms' needed to describe all the various schools of belief on any given subject. For instance, there's fundamentalism, preterism, millennialism, dispensationalism, and so on; and within each of these, there are further sub-divisions. (One may note that these are not competing ideologies, but a taxonomical sample.) By definition, there can only be one truth, therefore, logically, the majority of believers are wrong on any given topic.

In the USA (in particular) Christians are generally characterized by secularists as 'ultra-conservative,' for their opposition to 'socially progressive' policies such as abortion and 'gay rights,' to choose two of their flagship causes. Without (for the moment) judging these two cases, the conservative Christians seem curiously silent about matters such as growing poverty in the midst of plenty, endless and pointless foreign wars pursued by their gov't, torture of detainees (a return to the Inquisitions), deliberate murder of civilians in the cause of exporting 'democracy,' loss of freedoms for dubious security, and any number of other social inequities.

In fact, for most American Christians, the Devil is a Communist, and any suggestion of applying policy to close the wealth gap an iota between rich and poor is denounced by conservatives and Christians alike as 'communism.' While the US gov't is in debt to the tune of $16 trillion (or so; who knows?) thanks to the billions of dollars squandered on the military and its misadventures, they are now cutting back food stamps for the poor! If that fact doesn't rile up Christians to tirades of indignation, then one has to wonder if it is they who support the Devil. It seems any depredation can be perpetrated by the US gov't with full approval of the Christian block, so long as it's done under the twin banners of patriotism and capitalism.

As evidence of their ignorance of scripture, many (again, American) Christians lend their uncritical support to the state of modern Israel, regardless of its ruthless transgressions against the native Palestinians. Fast-talking pastors, waving the Old Testament in their hands, have bamboozled the bench-warmers to give money and political aid to the 'synagogue of Satan,' headquartered in Israel. They are ignorant of the ways Israel is bleeding the USA of funds, using the US military for its own Middle East ambitions, and even guiding and funding groups that are fighting US troops in various war venues. All Christians know is what their pastors tell them concerning how they must stand with the Jews in order to 'assist God' in bringing about the End of the Age. (Their wussy 'God' can't seem to do anything without their mindless meddling.)

Despite all the verses taken piecemeal from the Old Testament prophets, a cohesive study of New Testament prophecy will reveal surprises concerning the USA and Israel at the end of the Age. Far from being benign, peace-making nations, these two beasts show their true roles in the Book of Revelation as satanic partners in crime. Stupefied Christians are due for major shocks to their shaky beliefs in the near future, when they are not raptured out of trouble, but must face deception that could shatter their faith. (Refs [1], [2], [3]).

2. The Atheist Animus

So much for the Christian persona; what about atheists? Judging from the comments left by readers on a wide range of non-religious websites, atheists appear to hate Christians and the Bible with a fervor that, if anything, exceeds the revulsion of 'Christians' for 'sinners.' And who could blame them, given the group behavior of Christians as outlined above? However, what if the knowledge of atheists is tainted? Where do people get their impressions, those ideas that become their beliefs? For most of us, it's from the media-- i.e. newspapers, magazines, radio, and especially, TV and movies. How reliable and unbiased are the media?, I ask you.

That's part of the problem for atheists-- they're tilting at 'Christian windmills' created by the media-- the same media many people are coming to understand as the primary purveyors of the NWO regime. Those media stories have focussed on such things as pedophile priests, avaricious TV pastors, political meddling by 'Christian' leaders, etc. Over the past two decades, rarely can you find a widespread story giving any credit to Christian influence. From the secular media it's a constant barrage of how Christians want to deny abortion to women, and deny 'equal rights' (disguise for priority) for homosexuals. The alternative media are just as guilty in denouncing Christians and Christian values, the same values that helped elevate the USA to its preeminent position-- from which it is rapidly declining as 'secular values' grow to rule the day.

The big problem for atheists-- as for mainstream Christians-- is that they are incapable (or is it unwilling) to distinguish between the popular face of modern, fabricated Christianity (as described above), and the true, Bible-based faith. American Christian churches as they have come to be, bear scant resemblance to the faith of the apostles. Sure, they use their peculiar vocabulary, with sporadic reference to Jesus; but overall, they are stuck in their scary legalism, preaching 'eternal damnation' and rapture of the club-members, and other non-Biblical nonsense.

If atheists (and nominal Christians, for that matter) could go beyond the Hollywood version of Christianity and check scripture for themselves, they would (one hopes) perceive the real faith from the fake. Well, it's a thought, anyway. In fact, some critics of Christianity have gone to the trouble of reading the scriptures, and they still come away with their unbridled hatred of the faith. What went wrong?

Here's where so many miss it. As the Bible states, scripture is spiritually discerned, and opaque to the eyes of the profane. Just because you read words does not mean you understand the intent behind them. If you go in convinced it's all foolishness, then that is what you'll find. If you read with a genuine desire to know if it's true, you will probably be surprised.

Fundamentalists want to take scripture literally, and usually find extremism with that mindset. Others see everything as 'spiritual' (figurative) and thus discount much of applicable value. To use spiritual discernment is to be guided by God's spirit to know what is literal and what is not. It is to see the big picture of God's plan for humanity sketched in scripture, and not get bogged down or side-tracked or deterred by apparently confusing or contradictory details. Too many readers, Christian and non, get so involved with the 'trees' that they completely lose sight of the forest.

So, how is a person who doesn't believe in God supposed to be guided by God's Spirit? The idea is to suspend knee-jerk antipathy long enough to read the text with an objective eye. Before dismissing scripture with 'scientific' disdain, consider it on its own merits, and note its coherence within an overall context. One must be honest enough to say, 'If there is a God, may He guide my understanding.'

3. Commentary

Am I setting myself up as 'the expert,' who knows it all? No; but here's something to ponder. The truths of scripture are simple, not complicated; they are in plain sight, not hidden. The professional theologians and their acolytes want us to believe it's very complex, to justify their high status and salaries. The enemies of faith want us to believe it's all nonsense, inventions of history, to lead us away from present peace and life hereafter. But it's really simple.

Jesus stated it in one sentence: 'God loved the world (humanity) so much that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life' (John 3:16). That's the core message (the gospel) of Christian faith. As for defining how believers ought to live their lives, it doesn't take ten laws, or six hundred. It comes down to one, 'golden' rule: do to others as you would want done to you.

That's really the entire message of Jesus, hence of original Christianity! No one can argue against that core belief. If you don't want to acknowledge God and/or 'the son' (Christ), at least you can recognize the inherent value of 'love one another' via the golden rule.

So, atheists, if you're going to persist in hating 'Christianity,' at least be aware that it is a created straw-man that you are opposing; you have nothing to fear from genuine, non-denominated Christian faith. If you detest that fearsome blood-thirsty 'god' of Old Testament writings, go to the New Testament and see how Jesus paints a different picture of the one he calls his Father.

Christians, are you trying to live a New Testament life using an Old Testament mindset? It can't be done! That's what the Revelation (ch. 3) refers to as the lukewarm church [4]. Let go of the legalism of living under the tyranny of the Law. Are you saved by grace or by the Law? If you are truly being led by the Spirit, then why are you still preoccupied with the Ten Commandments? Paul tried to settle this matter for good with his letter to the Galatians; but like a zombie, it keeps coming back to haunt the church.

It's that legalistic outlook that causes people to look down on anyone who is seen to not live up to the imposed standard. By extension, anyone who is not one of 'us' must join us or be regarded as an enemy.

4. More Similarities

There's yet another way that atheists and Christians (church-goers) are surprisingly alike. (Perhaps all people share this trait.) They start off as 'seekers' of truth, either zealously, or nominally. They may explore a few possible avenues, altho mostly they are really reacting against some early beliefs-- e.g. the religion of their parents, typically. Eventually, they come across some 'system' (all human belief paradigms are religions of a sort) that captures their imagination. 'This is it!' they gleefully exclaim. 'This is all I need to know about the universe; I have all the answers I need for the rest of my life.'

And that's where they stop. Whether they've 'found' the Roman Catholic Church, some small cult or 'school' of thought, Buddhism, or secular humanism, the search comes to a grinding halt. Now really; can a mere mortal arrive at complete knowledge, a.k.a. Truth? Isn't it more reasonable to acknowledge that there's always more we can learn, that the search doesn't end until we do?

Okay, I hear the baying critics reflecting that last comment back at me! I assure you readers that I am still searching for more light. In fact, there is much that I've learned in just the past few years that has expanded my paradigm immensely; so much so that I can't really add it to the basics of my stated beliefs. Why not? Because to do so would require too great a leap for most people's imagination! It's clearly hard enough to try to get readers to comprehend what I'm presenting here-- that the mainstream Christianity presented to the world is a hollow caricature of genuine, aboriginal Christian faith. It is sufficient for people to come to grips with that fact, and then proceed to study to discover that genuine, priceless faith.

Conclusions

We started with a paradox: that both atheists and nominal Christians fail to understand the Bible, and for the same reasons. That enigma poses a challenge to both groups: are you willing to do the homework to discover where/if your current beliefs may be deficient and can be strengthened?

You can always do nothing. Stay smug in your status-quo, confident in those who have pre-digested your philosophy for you. Or, you can recognize that there's probably more to life's story than the well-paid experts would have you believe.

Every belief system is a mind-box. Do you like yours nice and snug and close-fitting? Or would you breathe more freely in a box whose walls you can barely see in the distance? As always, it's your choice.

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References:

[1] http://truthquestors.blogspot.ca/2010/09/beast-of-revelation-is-is.html
[2] http://truthquestors.blogspot.ca/2008/10/revelation-revisited-part-2.html
[3] http://truthquestors.blogspot.ca/2013/01/delusions-of-rapture.html
[4] http://truthquestors.blogspot.ca/2008/01/bible-describes-end-time-church.html

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