For whatever reason, there are two things that I find extremely frustrating: things that are illogical and people that waste my time. When it comes to the Christian religion, I find a confluence of both. The main reason for this is the institutionalization of what was intended to be life as Jesus taught it. Another key reason is the dogma of the Christian religion, and this reason stems from the first. While many groups such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormons are every bit as dogmatic and claim to have direct insight from God, my focus tends to be on the Protestant/Baptist/Evangelical (none of these labels are necessarily synonymous) factions because that is where most of my experience lies. And speaking in very general terms, these groups have traditionally been the most strident in their claim that Jesus is the only possible method of reconciliation between man and God. I happen to believe that this claim is true, so I find it exceedingly frustrating when a group makes this claim and then corrupts every facet of it.
All mainline religious groups in Western Christianity have become corrupted by religious stuff. Physical rituals have become preeminent in a futile attempt to reach or appease God. In many cases, doctrine has been built on nothing more than popular opinion. The reason for many doctrines has been lost. Some doctrines may have had an evidentiary basis at one time, but because of religious power consolidation, the why behind the what has been lost to the masses. They have been told to accept doctrine “because it’s a matter of faith.” Generations have gone by with the vast majority of nominal Christians holding beliefs with nothing to substantiate them but their own feelings and the corroboration of their peers. These self-affirming circles may be correct in some of their beliefs, but they are impotent in their ability to relate these beliefs to outsiders. Succeeding generations affirm the same concepts, yet actually know less than the preceding generation. The clergy, rather than encouraging their congregations to explore, learn, and seek the truth; use their time and influence to indoctrinate their followers in their version of the narrative, telling them exactly what they must believe. This human attempt to coerce people into believing a certain narrative about God represses the ability and willingness of people to actually learn and grow.
Christians tell nonbelievers that they absolutely must accept their version of the Christian narrative, but their rationale is “the Bible says so, and the Bible is the Word of God.” With competing claims that have the same rationale, it is little wonder that nonbelievers feel more comfortable in believing science over religion—especially when they witness the lack of unity in Christian circles. Let’s be clear: labeling something as “science” does not make it any more true than labeling it “divine.” This generation’s faith in unsubstantiated “science” has led to extraordinary error and detrimental life choices. But scientific methodology in reasoning can be applied to the discovery of physical truth as well as spiritual truth. Evidence must support conclusions. To paraphrase J. Warner Wallace, where evidence has multiple reasonable explanations, it is disingenuous to pick a favorite and declare it to be the truth as many secularists and religionists have done.
I have seen Christians completely reject Jesus, and I know atheists who conclude that there must not be any God because of the absurd image of God portrayed by Christians (yes, even by Evangelical Christians). Religious folks have presented a severely distorted image of God to the world to the detriment of all. To top it off, the behavior of Western Christians toward each other and toward the heathen unwashed—you know, “them that aren’t us”—has set an incredibly poor example for the world.
The combination of a foundation-less faith, hollow religious enterprise, and lack of unity in the Christian community is what characterizes Western Christianity; while it should be characterized by freedom, love, forgiveness, and healing. There are a handful of voices that carry this message, but they are few and far between. Were there a good number of folks shining the light in the religious darkness, I would spend my time on other endeavors. But since these folks are a small minority and because Christians keep spouting the same religious bullshit with no rational basis and telling me I have to believe it or else, I feel compelled to add my pinpoint of light to the others, until such time as those that want to be free from religion are surrounded by people who will tell them they are not crazy. And yes, I see the irony in the fact that many Christians will be incensed at my use of a vulgar word, but will blissfully ignore the spiritual abuse they are perpetrating.
I am not an adept teacher by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I have somewhat of a knack for sorting through things that don’t make sense. For the foreseeable, short-term future, I plan to take a look at some of Christianity’s idols and deconstruct them. Your input is welcome, as my experience, education, and scope are all limited; and I may miss something important.
My journey began because I sensed that there must be something more. I don’t expect to reach the end of the journey in this life, but I expect to get a bit closer every day.
I’ll see you on the road.