Ojo: I have a couple questions. In your search to be free and happy where does the person of Christ stand and His cross, His death and resurrection. This was not covered in your blog.
With regard to my own personal sense of happiness and sense of freedom, none of this is a factor at all. It just simply isn’t and it’s a very easy question to answer on the face, with really nothing more to say about it from there.
It used to be. When I was first at the point where I could no longer believe anything that would qualify me as a Christian at all, I worried very much whether I was wrong, what God might do (a paradox for an unraveling faith), how I could form a worldview and ethic outside of the faith I had grown up with and publicly promoted. I did a lot of study and reading and have largely answered all the questions I thought required belief in God (“But what about this?!, But what about that?!”) since.
Indirectly, it impacts my sense of happiness because I am sorry for so many of my friends who are beholden to fear (of hell, of not being accepted by God even with the claim of unconditional love, of believing the wrong things and what that means for being in good standing with God, and there are many more such theology-based drivers of fear). I am also saddened by how certain teachings and doctrines cause harm to families, children and individuals who are excluded from full participation and status in the human experience, from full membership and participation in the churches and religion of their family or heritage. This is true today especially of the LGBTQ community, but historically it has also been true of race, gender, interracial marriage, religious orthodoxy and much more.
Indirectly it impacts my freedom and the freedom of all people when laws and policies that favor one religion over another, or even theism in general are drawn up and passed by state and federal legislatures. Since Christianity is the dominant religion in American government and among its population (and we must be very careful to avoid the “Appeal to the People” fallacy here), this is an ongoing growing problem (and it’s also the main reason I write more about Christianity than other religions, even though most of the same ideas apply). Many believers see this pushing back on the encroachment on our Constitutional rights of religious freedom and freedom of conscience as persecution. Those arguments are not compelling.
I know it is difficult for devout believers to accept that there are those who give deeply-held religious beliefs no more credence than any other religion, but so it is. I do not write the following paragraph with any sarcastic or bad intent, but simply to illustrate and help people understand if possible. Imagine if you will, what it would be like to be asked the following serious questions by each of these religions’ respective devotees, each convinced that their path is the true path.
In your search to be free and happy;
- Where does the person of Muhammad stand, the last Prophet of God, with the Quran being God’s last and final revelation?
- Where does Shiva stand, the Supreme Being in Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, and the four proper goals or aims of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha?
- Where does Rishabhanatha stand, the first of twenty-four victorious saviours and teachers, who according to Jainism, lived millions of years ago? Where does the path of the three jewels fit in, the mean by which we achieve purification and liberation of the soul?
Most people in the U.S. would probably agree. These things have no impact at all on our happiness and liberation. We are all after all, unbelievers, atheists and agnostics with regard to all the world’s religions except our own. We simply don’t believe their claims to be historically, objectively, empirically true. They most often represent archaic moral and ethical values and concepts, even though they might have some worthy teachings.
It was not a goal I was deliberately working towards and it took a long while for me but Christianity has joined the rank of all the other world’s religions for the same reasons, intellectually and emotionally. I am much happier and much more liberated now than ever in my life.
Have a question or something you’d like to bounce off me? I’m happy to answer. Drop me a line here or in the usual places.
Well said. John 8:32 became even more real for me when I exited the evangelical bubble and entered the wider world. I am horrified by what I see now as the evangelical movement having decided to take Satan up on his offer in Matthew 4:8. If there was a loving god, I think he’d surely want nothing to do with these people.
thank you for taking the time to publicly answer this other person question