Recently I wandered through the topics being offered for a large ministerial conference of my former peers. While typically the first topic of concern was, as expected, " as Worship, the other topics were not all that informative on the topic of the actual Bible. When a ministry is made up of Bible readers, you can generally skip the seminar on "A Scripture can never mean what it never meant."
There was one workshop where one might ask questions on theology to the one man provided to answer them for you, but I suspect the questions were rather light and foofy unless the group wanted to probe the depths of the nature of the Trinity or just what plan B may have been for God with Adam and Eve, mostly Eve, mucking up the works. Other than that, I am fairly sure a good hard question about the Bible that was not on the official list of acceptable topics for public disclosure was off limits. One certainly would not wish to become labeled as "he who asks too many hard questions." That would endanger your career. I would be reminded of the Wizard of ID being questioned by a commoner and being told, "well with ideas like that, you're really going to go up in this Kingdom." The next scene you see the commoner standing at the bottom step of the gallows with he hangman saying, "Up you go there buddy."
Long story, but I have managed to outgrow my church and I was the pastor. Not the one of my youth, which was Presbyterian, but the one I moved on to in my youth thinking it was more real and then gave almost three decades of my life to it. In time, nuther long story, they reinvented the wheel and insisted I return to my rather Presbyterian roots taking me full circle. I realized my love affair with organized religion and true churches was over. Nuther long story.
The tribe does not have much use for stray dogs. They either domesticate them for their convenience or they eat them.
In my personal journey through a very sincere belief that I was correct in my Biblical perspectives as a pastor, I have gone from believing in the "God breathed" inerrancy of the Book, to an eyes wide open understanding that the Bible is neither all that Holy, "the greatest Book ever written and full of errors, bad science, implausible accounts and many contradictions. I find my self marveling at the hours spent by sincere pastors straining to understand how the sins of Adam and Eve impact our lives today and place us all under the cloud of and the need for blood atonement to make it all good again. The simple answer for me is now that the evolution of humans is good science and that the idea that any literal first humans called Adam and Eve is ludicrous. I"m almost ashamed of myself for taking so long to figure this out with the love of science I have always had but strained for decades to place it all in the context of Bible literalism, which can't really be done well...Ok, at all.
Since there was no literal Adam and Eve (and no, the creation of humans is not a mere 6000 years ago either), there was no literal sin for which everyone forever more after has to be cleansed from by the blood of a dying God/Man. The fact that there has been a score or more dying God/men in history, all of whom were born on December 25th, were tempted to fail, rose to the occasion, were betrayed, pierced and lay in the grave for three days and three nights only to be born again is pretty darn common. While some may love to "Tell the old old story of unseen things above...", they are not aware of just how old the story is or how it really did originate above in the stars.
The fact that this story of the and his is the same story as the SUN of God moving with it's 12 zodiacal signs over one year is something one never wants to notice or bring up. The fact is that SUN worship is THE origin of SON worship and all religion as we know it. The fact that the word "Galilee" means "circuit" is no coincidence. Jesus of the Galilee the Circuit is not much different than the trip taken by the Sun traveling around the circuit of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. They are both round trips from December 25th and back again with all of the same experiences in their ministry occurring right on cue. Great stuff, but let's move on.
Along with this, realizing that the miraculous events of the OT were mostly borrowed from older non Israelite mythologies, Prophets and Priests wove the tales far later than the stories imply and the real history of how the Bible came to be and "Houston...we've got a problem." At least I have a problem with using the not literally true texts to tell sincere humans how to literally be, think and do after coming to see what I can't unsee. Remember, you can't unring a bell nor return to the farm.
But where does one fit when the tribe has no use for you and stepping outside the box is going to have it's consequences? I'm amazed, yet should not be, of the phenomenal loss of "friends" one experiences when bells ring and lights go on. It's the price one pays for being unable to stay stuck in something you learn along the way is not as one has been told. Few go with you. some talk about you and all ignore you forever more.
The best I can come up with is that you become more of your authentic self...something organized religion is loathe to have you do in the first place. Churches and Priesthoods generally want followers, compliers and sheep. Ministers may seem to pride themselves in allowing for questions, but they are easy questions to answer because when all is said and done, one can claim that "God says it, I believe it. That does it for me" and put the ball back in the court of the reprobate questioner. If all else fails, the one who questions can be told "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the way thereof ends in death," or "God sees not as a man sees," or "The wisdom of God is foolishness with man," and thus all his questions can be dismissed. Of course, these putdowns don't answer the original questions, but they send the message that one is not even smart enough to ask the right ones. The cure for being "one who questions" may be everything from prayer and fasting to get the attitude straightened out to "how 'bout we sit out of church a few weeks and think about our relationship to Jesus." Either way, "he who questions loses." The Church and God always win in such cases.
So after you outgrow your church, organized religion or the literalism of one's childhood Sunday School lessons, what is the purpose of one's life? Since Churches tell us that salvation through the blood of a dying God/man is the , but now one has no confidence in that, what's the point? While I now can stay home from church and save a whopping ten percent, I'd still like to find meaning in life beyond being a food tube that eventually dies.
One of the many meme's of organized religion is that human beings are evil, nasty and worms in God's site. Their hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked to the point of total mistrust. We are sin personified in nasty flesh and worthy of nothing but death, at best. Let's get right to the truth of the matter.
You and I are just fine. We are who we are and it's your goal in life to get to know yourself and who YOU are. We are all unique parts of the same one thing. It's not our goal or to our advantage to believe that we are to become someone else or follow the life, perspectives or world view of someone else. That ruse has restrained and constrained human-becomings for way too long on the planet. The "you're not good enough," meme is a set up for allowing others to control you with fear, guilt and shame to their advantage every time.
The goal in life is to get to know your own unique self. It's a troublesome process as there are more than enough others who feel you need to get to know and be like others who are less defective and wormlike than yourself. Don't fall for it. Nursing homes are full of people who would give anything to have another shot at being themselves. But that goes back in another way to not being able to unring a bell.