My inquisitive nature and my need to seek out the truth have me on a journey. That journey has led me to part ways with organized religion, the Church, and to a large degree – Christianity.
Writing that last sentence was as hard as it was frightening.
Before now, I have shared my beliefs with only two people, both of whom have been extremely supportive. One is a “faithful Christian”, who withholds any judgment, and the other was not raised in church and thereby was never “indoctrinated” (his word) with Christian teachings. It is through the many conversations with both individuals that have helped me sort though the thoughts in my head and realize that I am not crazy nor am I alone.
I am reminded of the Dr. Benjamin Mays quote,
“I’ll rather go to hell by choice then heaven by following the crowd.”
A former classmate stated on Facebook, “It’s difficult being an Independent thinker and existing in a world committed to the herd.”
I agree wholeheartedly and I forge ahead. Take a walk with me…
Watching TV one Sunday morning, I caught a Bishop delivering a sermon. Something he said resonated with me. He was stating his case against individuals who choose not to worship God in a “church”. In essence, claiming that if you are a part of the vine (the body of Christ), you must remain connected with the source (God, i.e., the church) in order not to wither and die.
He went on to say that what makes the church “holy” is the alter and if your home does not have one it is “insufficient”.
Well, I beg to differ. The church is a building and the “act” of attending Sunday service is a “religious practice” and has very little to do with an individual’s spirituality or their relationship with God.
This was not the first time I found myself at odds with what I have heard preached and taught from the pulpit. Not long ago, this same Bishop delivered a sermon centered on adultery. In this sermon he gave his definition of adultery to be any sexual intercourse between people who are not married to each other. A big departure from Webster’s definition:
Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also: an act of adultery
So according to this Bishop, if I have sex with a single man we are committing adultery. Who knew…all of these years I’ve been an adulterous Jezebel – not a fornicator.
Another point made in that same sermon was on the word infidelity. Again the Bishop conveyed his definition telling the congregation infidelity is based on the word “infidel” when means no belief in God.
Again we have another departure from the true definition an origin.
Merriam-Webster defines infidel:
1: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2 a: an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion b: one who acknowledges no religious belief
3: a disbeliever in something specified or understood
It struck me sitting there in the choir loft that the majority of the congregation will listen to this erroneous information and internalize it as truth, the gospel, without any further investigation or questions. My next thought, or question, was how long I would continue to participate in religious practices that I could no longer reconcile with my inner beliefs.
Not long after that Sunday, I stopped attending church.
For a very long time I found my beliefs to be in direct opposition to what I have been taught in the Christian religion. As I have matured and grown, I have become less afraid and guilt ridden to express my beliefs and live my life accordingly.
What are those beliefs? Glad you asked.
- The major tenet of Christian teachings is that there is only one way to God and that is through your belief in Christ and if you don’t believe, you’re going to hell and will never see God.
My, how we limit God and place him in a box when God is much larger than that. I think it is nothing short of arrogant for me to say to my Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Agnostic, et al, brethren they are going to hell simply because they do not believe in Christ. What if as Christians you have it wrong?
- The Bible is the word of God. The word of God translated thousands of times for well over 2,000 years. My thoughts are there is a LOT lost in translation and I question the motives of those original authors.
I also put it into the context of the times it was written. All you have to do is read the Old Testament or textbooks on the history of Christianity to understand where I’m coming from. How do we know the original intent of God? How can I trust the sources? Flawed men who historically used their position to control and instill fear to keep order.
- Creationism vs. Evolution…and evolution loses despite all the published scientific data. I think there is room for both. Dyed in the wool Christians do not. Is it not possible that the author of the book of Genesis, in his limited scientific knowledge, attempted to describe the creation of the universe the best way he knew how, albeit rudimentary?
So where does that leave me? Am I a semi-Christian? Agnostic? An infidel? What?
Honestly, I have no answers. However, I resist the urge to label myself – to limit my thinking or place God in this neat little box.
I am an Independent thinker and existing in a world committed to the herd.
I am a person on a spiritual journey hoping to get it right…
Aren’t we all?