Getting Me Back to the Faith

SpurgeonOjo, a while back you asked why believers would try to get you to return to the faith. I think this quote from Charles Spurgeon encapsulates the feelings of many of us. It does come from a good place znd [sic] not from a place of judgement or condemnation or even a feeling of spiritual superiority. God bless you my good friend!

First, I have already been warned for the last time, so this is unnecessary.

If it’s true that sinners are damned, then Spurgeon is right. I’d have to refuse the invitation on moral grounds. Someone would have to forcefully drag me into the heaven ruled by this god against my will, kicking and screaming, helpless.  I’ve laid out the reasons why in this post. If there are countless souls in hell for simply not believing the right things in defiance and violation of conscience and the only faculties we were born with, and Spurgeon’s God is eternally ok with that, even resigned to it, then this is tyranny, not love, not justice, not mercy, not good in any way. It is entirely possible that this God is evil though, and then again I’d have to refuse the invitation. If you truly want to see me come back though, there is a way, although it will not be by prayer and warning.  The way to get me back is here!

The graphic that came with this note (above) is also interesting.  Note the link – depravedwretch.com.  I went to the site and poked around and found this on what she had to say about the name of her website (apparently I’m not the only one taken aback that someone would refer to herself this way).

Here at Depraved Wretch we recognize the lack of understanding most have of the true nature of mankind and our hope is this name will help spread awareness.

We believe that all of humanity is totally depraved, lost, blind and dead in sin. Every one of us deserves the wrath of God for every sin we’ve committed, but Jesus Christ took all of our sin upon Himself and suffered in our place.

Turn from sin and put your faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

This essay, That Fateful Apple does an excellent and comprehensive job of untangling this awful theology.  It’s worth a read in full but I  provide just a small excerpt here:

Witness the many Christians who live in perpetual fear of sinning, who are constantly begging God to forgive them for real or imagined transgressions, who find only confusion, misery and depression where they were promised a sense of inner peace and contentment. […]

Believing that you are a wretch and that the best you can do is as filthy rags in your god’s sight turns life into joyless servitude, requiring a person to police their every action and thought, try to repress many entirely natural and healthy urges, and torment themselves for every slip-up, no matter how slight. How could anyone bear to live under such a gloomy, life-sapping cloud?

Christianity tries to win converts by piling guilt onto them for non-existent crimes. In effect, it tries to make us believe we are sick so it can sell us a cure. But as the saying goes, an entire pound of cure is not as good as a single ounce of prevention, and the prevention in this case is to realize that we are not sick, that we are not worthless sinners, and that while there may be badness in us, there is much good as well. It is past time for us to throw out the degrading idea of innate depravity that has shackled us and stifled our growth for so long and give ourselves the credit we deserve.

Make no mistake, to discard this doctrine is not to deny all moral responsibility. We are still accountable, to ourselves and to others, for our behavior, but this is a standard that is in our power to meet. And if with the adoption of this standard comes the further realization that there is no good evidence for any supernatural beings to whom we owe anything at all, so much the better.

I feel very sorry for the depraved wretch and anyone who has such a low sense of self worth and world view. What I consider truly sad is that the lives and relationships of those who hold these beliefs are so driven by fear. It is sad that these people cannot see, that this awful theology has so blinded them into thinking that bad is good, that down is up, that right is wrong. In what sense is considering someone damned to eternal torment coming from a good place? And in what sense is this not “judgment or condemnation?” How could such a person be capable of love at all, and how seriously can anyone take claims of love from someone who sees people this way?

I am grateful for the good intentions you claim to have, and I take you at your word, but in the end, I have to agree with Christopher Hitchens (at 7:13 below).

To me what matters most is the pursuit of happiness, in the words of our greatest Founding Father, and the pursuit of liberty, freedom. And that these things are incompatible, completely incompatible with the worship of an unalterable celestial dictator – someone who can watch you while you sleep, and convict you of thought crime, and whose rule cannot be challenged, and who’s the Big Brother, whose eternal reign may not be disputed. That makes the concept of the pursuit of freedom and happiness completely negative, negates it. So one of the things I live for is to return a stout and joyful “Non serviam!” to this dictator who I’m pleased to find doesn’t really exist, but is instead a creation of those who want to install a theocracy in the real life that I can participate in. I’m not going to give them an inch.

7 thoughts on “Getting Me Back to the Faith

  1. I honestly don’t understand the dictator perspective. I’ve never experienced that. I can only imagine what that would be like. Its hard for me to believe that anyone has experienced that. But that’s why one would converse with someone else to try to understand their experiences, right? If in fact we can truly understand what someone else has gone through or has to deal with.

  2. The dictator analogy is perfect. Let’s start with the premise that G-d is all-knowing and creates all in perfection.
    And yet he created man.
    He forbade man to eat the fruit of te tree of knowledge if good and evil.
    A tree he created and placed in the garden he created.
    KNOWING that his “perfect creation”, man, would eat the fruit. KNOWING that his “perfect creation” wasn’t perfect, after all. KNOWING that he would be disobeyed, have to send “His son” to be a “sacrifice” to appease Him.

    Dwell on that. If this premise is true, Who is the ultimate drama-queen, after all?
    Let’s review.
    He creates earth and man, all so he has a reason to have his own son murdered, to show his “love” for his “perfect creation”, that he entrapped in the first place?
    Boy, that’s SOME kinda “love”.
    If I wanted to be trapped in guilt and self-loathing for the rest of my life, why become a Christian? I can just get married. Same result.

  3. Hey Joe, it’s been a while. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate you taking the time to write out the important excerpts from the embedded video. I’m often reading your posts in places where I can’t play a video (or at least, can’t play it with the audio turned on). The Internet wants to turn us all into watchers instead of readers, and that drives me crazy. I don’t know if any of this was intentional on your part or not, but I’m giving you credit anyway.

  4. Hi there,

    I was fortunate to attend many of your concerts and bible studies in the early to mid eighties. While I too have left the faith, your bible study provided me with an opportunity to learn how to analyze and compare religious concepts. Thank you for your efforts to reach out to teens. While we both selected paths beyond Christianity, I’m glad our paths crossed at that time.

    .

  5. Very interesting post. I found this through the Atheist Analysis Youtube episode you did. Undercover influenced me both musically and spiritually back in the early 80s (I was 10). I did and continue to love alternative music and don’t like to put labels on it (Christian, etc.). I too grew up in a Pentecostal church that was overly legalistic and self-righteous. I certainly left the faith that I grew up in and will never associate myself with any church. Ignorance is comfortable and my view of the church today is a group of individuals who have no objectivity. However, I still have this sense of wonder when I look up at the sky, or think of the miracle of life, and just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. I applaud your courage and can empathize with the path that led you to atheism. I guess I am more of an agnostic because I believe (or like to believe) that there is an artist or a creator that designed this universe and planet. I respect your view and can understand how you got there.

  6. “What I consider truly sad is that the lives and relationships of those who hold these beliefs are so driven by fear. It is sad that these people cannot see”…

    as your journey continues the sense of sorrow you have will dissipate. the pain and suffering of others is of no consequence and should be totally detached from your own inner life experience. when you shed your silly belief systems, over time, reality becomes clear… you come to understand and accept the inconsequential nature of existence. anything beyond pitiless indifference does not reflect the truth of reality.

  7. I do not know if Ojo will read this comment …but my intersection with him is back in the early eighties… I attended Rich Bueller’s Church… I listen to kbrt and listen to Rich buhler… and Talk From The Heart …I remember the day that Ojo was on the show talking about the new Branded album… and I remember Rich talking to you about the first song …I’m Just a Man …sounding like a psalm.. the song.
    he said
    had a part 2 part waitimg to be written …like the psalms.. where the Lord would heal and restore…
    Rich Buhler laid his hands on me one day and I was filled with the Holy Spirit ..
    I try to be an honest person … part of that honesty is that I cannot deny that experience with God …before that experience I was as serious Christian who went to a Bible school and I was 18 or 19 years old or something like that….. after the Holy Spirit experience I feel as though I cannot deny Jesus ..or God …in all honesty… I’ve tried to explain it away.. but to this day I still feel God’s presence…
    I remember Rich talking about Undercover and how it stretched him spiritually because watching a concert …he said.. that the Holy Spirit was everywhere ….
    I also know having gone to his church that his wife Linda ..at the time… tried out to be a Disneyland character doing dances from songs of Undercover on her try outs from the 1st three albums ..kinda funny……I must say that I love the first three albums because of the heart of those albums and the sincerity… I am not embarrassed by those albums I hope you are not mainly because with all the Hedonism and sexual conquest and self-centeredness and things like Billy Idol or Madonna or whatever.. at that time..or any time in the rock and roll era…you cannot possibly be ashamed of those albums… because all there is are young men who want to be good and want to be holy and loving …and that is special and rare….
    I mean come on …really?
    …Closer to You…from God Rules…
    How precious.
    I listened to The Atheist show on YouTube that interviewed you…
    There is so much richness to the Christian faith that those two guys did not really understand… and you could tell …and I know that you understand… and I just want to scream…
    If Christianity is false and all my experiences are delusional and mistaken…
    I may still want to be a Christian … because I don’t know how to love people ..I don’t know how to be good ..I don’t know how to care outside of the Christian faith..
    I have never observed the quality of changing lives like I see in my Christian circles… and if atheism is true… you need to figure out a way to incorporate Christian transformation into a secular setting without atheist idiots having no understanding of what that is about….
    I have avoided rational arguments but how can the universe exist without a first cause?
    The only way for the universe to exist is that it must have a first cause ..and that first cause is by a mind that exists outside of a physical world… it is the only way to explain it…
    Seriosly.
    God.
    Thanx Barry

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