Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Religion, Salvation, Truth

In Response to Some of the Comments from the Previous Post…

If you haven’t read the previous posts and the subsequent comments, this will probably make no sense. You’ve been warned! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not sure if my Dad’s going to comment again or not, since it’s been several days now. And I haven’t come across any other members of the Church of Christ that want to comment either. So as an ex-member, I’ll try to stand in a little and give you an idea of where they’re coming from.

As has been mentioned already, much of the teaching on withdrawal comes from 1 Cor 5 and 2 Thess 3. There are some ancillary passages as well, but these two are the main ones. To be clear, a strict reading of these passages does teach the idea of withdrawing from members who have stepped beyond the way a Christian should live and behave. And as my Dad’s already pointed out, there are at least 3 reasons for doing this: 1) the Bible commands it, 2) it removes a “bad apple” from the congregation, and 3) it should show the erring member where he’s wrong so he can repent.

So I do want to be clear that I don’t think my Dad is completely off the mark. In his defense, most times I’ve seen withdrawal implemented, it’s been toward people who still considered themselves Christians to some degree or another. In other words, withdrawal actually had a chance of working in those situations.

However, the situation with me and my wife is different in that we stopped believing Christianity altogether, and the Bible simply doesn’t give instruction for those kinds of situations. And when it does talk about those who are non-believers, it says NOT to withdraw from them. So that’s the point that I hope he’ll address. Again, people (at least in my area of the world) don’t typically leave Christianity completely, so this is uncharted territory for my family — I’m not surprised that they thought withdrawal was the proper response. But I think a closer examination of the New Testament shows that it’s been misapplied, and I really hope they’ll consider that.

I’m not naive enough to think this would solve all our problems — being around one another would still be tense at times. After all, we no longer share what used to be the most important thing in our lives. But I do think we could get back to a good relationship that we’d all enjoy, even if it’s tempered by some bittersweet nostalgia.

Thanks again to all of you for your comments and your interest. I hope these posts haven’t gotten you down! My wife and I (and our kids) are truly in a great place right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

53 thoughts on “In Response to Some of the Comments from the Previous Post…”

  1. Nate, I have actually been infuriated through this entire series. Not at you and not at your family but at the entire system of fundamental Christianity. These churches raise their children in the belief that the bible is infallible, ergo: the bible is God. So once those children start finding discrepancies in the book, there must not be a God. I have no problem with a man being an atheist. I have a huge problem with a man having been raised in an environment where his atheism is a forgone conclusion.

    Now that I have that off my chest, I am afraid you should not expect too much from your family. They sound like good people, but they have been raised in an environment of fear. If they give any credence to what you think, then they will burn in hell. If they disagree with the C of C in anyway then they are not true Christians and will burn in hell. This is why you shouldn’t mix your paganism with your Judaism, it just confuses everything.

    If you were a Christian or a traditional Jew, I would council you to pray for them. Ask God to bless and keep them. To grant them peace and joy.

    BUT, since you are an atheist I have to change this completely to “Wish them. a blessed life and that they should have peace and joy. That is the only way ‘you’ will keep your peace.and joy. And THAT is actually what life is all about.

    God bless you brother.

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  2. Thanks, Hayden. I actually think you’re exactly right in your assessment of the situation. I wish things were different, and hope that they will be one day, but I’m not holding my breath for it. Fear is definitely the most prominent element in their belief system, and that’s why my wife and I decided it would stop here. Our children will not be hampered with it.

    Thank you so much for the great comment.

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  3. Nate, Hayden’s comments hits it on the nail. Unfortunately, what drives most of the Christians’ faith is fear. When people start to question and honestly start looking for answers beyond what the church teaches, then true freedom and salvation is experienced. I would not go as far as atheism myself, but I have explored other avenues and prefer to practice a more inclusive approach in my spiritual journey. If you find peace where you are, amen. I would only suggest that it is important to keep traveling in your spiritual journey and not be stagnated in one place, because that is what most believers do anyways and keeps them from experiencing true love. Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience. Peace.

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  4. As a christian, I think the main problem is a legalistic approach to christian faith. By that I mean thinking that the Bible is a clear and unambiguous statement of rules which we absolutely need to follow. There are many problems with this view:

    1. There are cases of apparent conflict which require churches and theological systems to take one side or the other and then find a theological argument why the contrary verses can be re-interpreted. For example, both sides on the debate about the roles of women in churches do this. Rather, I believe, we should see the Bible as giving principles and examples, rarely hard and fast rules.

    2. There is clear progression in the revelation in the Bible, and so we have to be wary of taking a teaching out of its context.

    3. The New Testament clearly teaches we are to be led by Spirit and not by Law, again emphasising the freedom we have and the need to pray and be “led by the Spirit” rather than allow others to make rules we feel we must obey.

    Unless your friends and family can see the New Testament in this way, and allow the Spirit to guide their interpretation rather than rigid church rules, I don’t think they will be able to break free. For my part, I will continue to pray for the situation. I know you don’t believe there’s anyone listening, but perhaps you can think a positive vibe can help in some way.

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  5. I’ve never understood Christianity. It is far easier to get a handle on Zeus that the ‘god’ created by ‘Christians’.
    That Jesus may have been a real historical person is still in the balance – no matter what Unklee and his ‘consensus’ will have us believe -LOL!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And all this fertilizer over church dogma is really quiet bewildering.
    What is funny (sic) is the sympathy you are receiving from Christians!. Mind blowing.
    They cannot really understand what’s been going on with your church and your folks yet they all have an ‘OPINION’ along the lines of….
    “I’m a believer but…er…, well, this doesn’t sound very Christian/Christlike to ME,because in OUR church……”, (yawn) quite conveniently forgetting that as per the basic tenets of their very own doctrine – irrespective which christian CHURCH they attend, you, Nate (and me of course) are bound for the ‘PIT’ my man.
    So why all the platitudes? After all the cr** you’ve been through do they TRULY believe that you and you missus are suddenly going to wake up and say (in the immortal words of Sheldon Cooper) Bazinga! Fooled you!

    What you SHOULD do is write a book. Set the record straight – officially- and I am damn sure there would be several publishers who would queue to get you signed on the dotted line.

    If the mainstream publishers can put out some the utter garbage Christians write then they should jump at the chance to hear your story, which is not atheist or mythic but a real tale.
    MIght help a lot of people, believe me, and you just might make some ‘filthy lucre’ on the side!

    Book title?

    Is there Hell? Been there, and got the T-shirt.
    -A Christian deconversion tale to open your eyes.-

    Have a great Christimas, Nate ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  6. @Noel,
    Thanks for the great comment!

    If you find peace where you are, amen. I would only suggest that it is important to keep traveling in your spiritual journey and not be stagnated in one place, because that is what most believers do anyways and keeps them from experiencing true love.

    Yeah, I completely agree with you.

    @unkleE,
    Thanks for comment. I definitely welcome the prayers, and I appreciate all the points you’ve made throughout this series of posts.

    @arkenaten,
    Thanks for the comment! And I absolutely loved this:

    Is there Hell? Been there, and got the T-shirt.
    -A Christian deconversion tale to open your eyes.-

    Hope you have a great Christmas too! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  7. @arkenaten,

    Some of us may have a better handle on the situation than you believe. Also I don’t understand why you would feel confusion at our concern over Nate’s eternity.

    Nate’s a big boy, he has made his choices on his own while meeting friction from just about every person in his life. I hope that one day his mind will be changed, it can and does happen. Just take a look at this blog say 4 years ago and where Nathan was spiritually, to say that there is no chance he could change his mind in another four years isn’t that safe of a bet.

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  8. @Matt.
    Smile…I am afraid you still do not understand. It is not that Nate, his wife and every other deconvertee has missunderstood scritpture and may indeed change their minds and return to the fold. This is NOT the case at all.
    The journey to deconversion is all about understanding, not MISSUNDERSTANDING. It is coming to grips with the inculcation that was foistered upon them since birth.
    It is applying the intelligence they were born with to see through the murkey veil of subterfuge and often, downright lies, to reach a spiritual place where one is capable of standing on one’s own two feet without fear of being damned to hell by a ‘god’ (sic) and worse, one’s fellow man.
    Christians stubbonly refuse to acknowledge that their religion – ALL religion- offers nothing, but demands everything, including one’s ‘soul’.
    Almost every modern scholar acknowledges that Moses is a fictional character and the tale of the Exodus and establishment of the ancient Jewish homeland is pure, unadulterated fiction.
    As the New Testament is supposedly the fulfillment of prophecy who then, was Jesus talking about when he mentions Moses?
    As an omnipotent god, he MUST have known the truth about Moses.
    So either he was delusional, genuinely mistaken, or he was also a character of fiction.
    You choose, Matt and once you are able to answer that simple question with absolute honesty then you will be on your way to truly see the light.

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  9. I do agree with ark’s statement. I feel like I have a better understanding of Christianity now than I did when I was a Christian — I certainly know more about it. In fact, I know myself well enough to realize that if I had known this stuff a decade ago, I would have stopped believing then. And had I known it when I was 9 years old, I never would have become a Christian at all.

    However, I also realize that Christians feel that they have the truth and understand these things better than those of us who don’t believe. But it’s normal for all of us to feel that way — we naturally think our own opinions are true.

    So all that being said, I do appreciate the sympathy that I’ve received from believers on this blog. I really enjoy the relationships that I’ve developed with many of them over the months and years. And I’m thankful that moderate and thoughtful versions of Christianity (and atheism) exist that allow us all to live in tolerance of one another.

    When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I believed it was my duty to try to convert the world. Now, I’m perfectly content to put aside evangelism and just enjoy people for who they are, regardless of their beliefs. I still like to talk about religion, but I don’t feel a need to convert (or de-convert) anyone.

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  10. Yes, but they still want to reconvent YOU, and don’t you find at get -togethers and such that Christians who you ‘knelt’ alongside for years” now…
    a) think you must be smoking something – its legal in Washington now, apparantly…;))
    b) Been attending too many Metallica concerts and have been infected by Satan. -Don’t talk to that man, Honey…you don’t know where he’s been…
    c) Are expecting you to slap them on the back and say, “Just kidding”.
    d) How many conversations do you have with Christians where they begin every line with, “Yes, Nate, we understand, BUT…”
    รซ) Consider you are now Living in Sin’ and are now not really married.

    Proof of how much a Heathen you really are, Nate, will be evidenced by the fact that because you don’t believe in Santa either he has decided not to bring you any pressies.

    Rather you than me, Nate ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Yeah, you bring up some good points. Most of the Christians I know fall into 3 groups right now: those who don’t know I’m no longer a Christian, those (like my parents) who know it and have closed off virtually all social contact because of it, and those who know it but haven’t treated me any differently because of it. And I’d say that most Christians I know fall into that last category, so I don’t have any problems with them.

    But yes, on the rare occasion that I come into contact with someone from my old congregation, things are much more like what you describe in your comment. I think they imagine all kinds of horrible things about us now. Some of them are so certain that a person can’t be morally good without religion, that they’ve created a fantasy version of us to fit their expectations.

    It’s similar to how some Christians will say that a person that leaves the church was never a true Christian to begin with. Regardless of how many of us assure them that we were once true believers, they can’t accept it because it doesn’t fit with their previously established narrative.

    Proof of how much a Heathen you really are, Nate, will be evidenced by the fact that because you donโ€™t believe in Santa either he has decided not to bring you any pressies.

    ๐Ÿ˜€

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  12. @haydenmiller. RFLOL Sorry to dissapoint you my friend, but i was never really among the ‘faithful’
    Brought up in a very laisez faire Christian environment and only became marginally interested when I began doing some research for a piece I was writing on Moses. In fact , what I was writing was a comic fantasy novel and merely needed a little historical background.
    One thing led to another and suddenly I find out the whole lot is hogwash. Only later, did I come across this world of wackadoodle- weirdness among reborns and fundamentalists. I was not even aware of Young Earth Creationists until I began blogging.
    I just thought it was Jesus, his dad)god) and the bible – that, like mnost of us, had never read.
    But what a surprise is in store for anyone who DOES read it.

    Angry? No, not really. Merely mystified and somewhat saddened that parents can brainwash kids with this garbage.
    Go research a guy called Professor Ze’ev Herzog. Read his thesis on the Exodus. And while you are at it, try Israel Finklestein…supposedly THE authority on OT archaeology etc.
    Might open your eyes…..

    Have fun. And remember, Jesus is watching you, so be good now, y’hear?

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  13. @Haydendlinder.
    Of course, Arkenaten sucks and naturally you don’t want to trust Herzog’s data, because if you afford it any credence at all it blows your crappy christianity out the water .
    And of course, Jesus won’t be happy about that now will he?
    But merely for arguments sake, try to do the math. I know they still do mathematics where you come from.
    Imagine an estmated 1-2 million people (slaves to boot) upping and leaving Egypt which had at that time a total population of around 4 mil. Can you try to think what such a drastic depletion of population would do to the country? And these slaves were the workforce as well, remember?
    Now try to imagine the ecological impact of such a huge movement of people over a period of 40 years.

    Now try to think of the impression such a human Leviathan would leave on the landscape over such an extended period.
    Now, oddly enough, there is no evidence. Isn’t that weird”
    Not a bowl, bone, or ‘fozzilized’ donkey dropping. Not a coin, not a piece of jewellery. Nor a grave – and surely over 40 years thousands upon thousands would have died. But yet again, zip.
    Now, compare this with the village of Nazareth, where archaeologists are CONVINCED that this village/farm existed at the time of Jesus and all they have are a few tiny lamps of uncertain origin, some coins , not first century – and a few pottery shards. And consensus is that the place was a one family farm. And the ‘experts’ “Yup, this is probably where Jesus lived” NO Sh**!

    So, meanwhile, back in the Sinai….

    Of course you could research ancient Egypt if you are not happy with Herzog and his pals.
    Let me know if you come up with ANYTHING non biblical.
    (Besides the Merneptah Stele, of course.)

    Bye Bye…Don;t fret, Jesus still loves you..

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  14. I ‘think’ you’re assuming I’m a certain kind of Christian.
    Whether the Jews were slaves, David never existed, all of the Bible is crap and so on, doesn’t matter to Yeshua. It’s NEVER been about being accurate in your dogma.

    As for my statement, Very literally, they are not digging deep enough. That is my suspicion.

    ANNNnnnnnd Arkenaten is a poo poo britches too. So there.

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  15. @haydendlinder.
    “I โ€˜thinkโ€™ youโ€™re assuming Iโ€™m a certain kind of Christian.”

    Sorry, lost me there. What’s a certain kind of Christian, please?
    You abide by the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed so therefore you are a Christian as per the generally recognised version that’s been around since the Church, declared Marcion a heretic, made up..oops sorry, I mean compiled,the bible and set about liquidating all dissent.
    What other doctrines you may follow is your business, be they Protestant Catholic, Fundimentalist, or whatever. I could really care less.
    Re: Herzog
    You have to read between the lines. Those scholars who are opposed to what Herzog’s thesis propounds are, in the main, not denying what he states, merely saying that this info, in one form or another, has been known for around fifty years.
    What they ARE saying is that while they acknowledge the bible cannot be regarded as a historical document it is intrinsically linked to the culture of the Israelite/Jewish people and to dimiss it would seriously jeapordize the politics of the region.
    Albright started it, in the 20’s trying to disprove the theories of Welhausen. And he came short…well short.
    Your, ‘not digging deep enough’ statement gives the impression that there are one or two archaeologists out on a Sunday dig.
    Some of the best archaeologists in the world have been excavating all over Palestine for the better part of a century and the concesus is as Herzog and Finklestein describe.

    While there is genuine concern that any major Public/National admission in this regard will have serious conseqquences within Arab/Israeli relations I am not aware of any statements from Arab nations for a full Israeli disclosure either, which would soon lead to questions about Jewish monotheism and inevitablly similar questions about Islam.

    And of course once the monotheistic boat is rocked everyone’s religion begins to take on water and will go down faster than the Titanic. Many may not like the Jews/Israelis but they sure as heck aren’t going to call the out on their bible, are they? LOL
    One reason why no one is making too much of a fuss – even though they know that Herzog is, in the main, spot on.

    Which would be very tough for Christianity. But who’s going to say anything? Difficult to disillusion so many millions with the truth, right?
    Too much at stake – power , money

    Oh, and it doesn’t matter to Yeshua, you say?
    I beg to differ. The New Testament is basically fullfilmnt of prophecy – supposedly, anyway, and without the Old Testament the New is little more than toilet paper.

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  16. @Arkenaten
    Man you love the sound of your own typing.
    OK. “โ€œI โ€˜thinkโ€™ youโ€™re assuming Iโ€™m a certain kind of Christian.โ€
    Sorry, lost me there. … Fundimentalist, or whatever.”
    Umm no. God is God and he doesn’t need a book. Also after all the changes to the new testament and the old over the last couple of thousand years, I don’t depend on anything in either part of the bible.

    As for the scientists. My concerns for accuracy began when they came to a consensus on when Abraham left Egypt. Which is what Prof. Herzog said they did back in the 50’s I think. Them coming to a consensus is my problem. Because I know a ton of Christians who have “come to a consensus” that there is a hell for sinners. Which is blasphemous crap! The archaeologists deciding when Abraham left Egypt sets the depth of how deep to dig and I don’t trust people motivated by money to bother with digging deeper if they get published and paid for finding controversial information.

    So by now, you should know I don;t care what they find so long as they are doing it scientifically. Which I don’t think they are.

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  17. I believe you have misread and misunderstood the articles by a long shot. Maybe you should read them again?
    Especially about Abraham? Have no clue where you are coming from here….

    As for archaeologisrs not being trust worthy because of money…
    Well, they do have to eat, like the rest of us I guess. However, consider Albright. He was a devout Christian and he certainly was not motivated by money, rather a desire to prove the archaeological innerancy of the Bible; and he failed spectacularly.

    It is of no mind to me whether you care or not. You are perfectly entitled to your own opinion. Unfortunately you are not entitled to your own facts.

    “Umm no. God is God and he doesnโ€™t need a book.”

    Actually he does, as this is where you derive your knowledge of your god.
    But the real question is which god are you referring to? There are literally thousands. And if you wish to argue this point , please don;t do so with me but rather take it up with someone of a different faith to your own, who will no doubt have a better argument for you that any that I can provide, okay?

    I am amenable to continuing this discussion on an intellectual level…if you can manage it. If not…well, what can one say?

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  18. Sigh. “Solomon built the Temple 480 years after the exodus from Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). To that we have to add 430 years of the stay in Egypt (Exodus 12:40) and the vast lifetimes of the patriarchs, producing a date in the 21st century BCE for Abraham’s move to Canaan.” “…โ€ข The Exodus from Egypt, the wanderings in the desert and Mount Sinai: The many Egyptian documents that we have make no mention of the Israelites’ presence in Egypt and are also silent about the events of the Exodus.”

    So how did they get the dates? They guessed? Did they guess wrong? How do I know the Proffessors guessed right?

    Also, I’m sorry you’re so gifted at using the Bible to crush the beliefes of Bible thumpers. And I’m sorry I get to ruin that for you by saying God doesn’t need a book. But you don;t get to tell me my God needs a book any more than I get to tell you “You can’t be an Atheist.”

    May the God of Abraham bless you.

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  19. “So how did they get the dates? They guessed? Did they guess wrong? How do I know the Proffessors guessed right?”

    Guess? No, I’m pretty sure it’s not done like that. They use archaeology in such cases, especially where there is not reliable written record or contemorary account to provide other evidence.
    However; there is no archaeological record whatsoever of the events described in the bible.

    Hertzog and co. treat the bible as any other book and subject it to the critical rigours it deserves. And so should you. Why do you believe it deserves special treatment ? If it has some factual historical account of the Exodus etc then let it stand or fall on its merits.
    It doesn’t require a degree in ancient history or even one in literature to realise it is nothing more than a story.

    “But you don;t get to tell me my God needs a book…”
    This is true, it was/is men that need the Book to remind themselves that they invented their god.

    “May the God of Abraham bless you”.

    And Yahweh’s consort, Asherah?http://alumni.news.unimelb.edu.au/did-god-have-wife-archaeology-and-folk-religion-ancient-israel
    ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yahweh couldn’t do it all by himself, right? Didn’t want to risk going blind or anything.

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