Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Christianity: It's Personal



There will never, ever be any scientific evidence that atheists require out of Christians for proof of our convictions. Never. I do not have it, I have never claimed to have it, I never will claim to have it. Because the scientific evidence that atheists demand simply does not exist. This does not, and will not, waver my Christian beliefs. How is it that I can live with such a paradox of thought? How is it that I readily admit that I don't have the evidence that atheists look for, but continue to accept what they would consider to be blatant fiction?

It's a valid question and an important question. It's also a question that needs to be thought out and pondered – especially as more and more question the validity of the Christian faith for many, many reasons – especially when mainstream Christianity has become, in my opinion, anything but Christianity but a political and financial powerhouse in itself, which poses in a shroud of religiosity. But that is for another time.

Why then do I continue to believe in Jesus Christ and His teachings? Why is it that I believe in the realms of heaven and the reality of spiritual beings even though I cannot show you or prove their existence? Why is it that I believe in angels? Why is it that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That there even is a God? I can't prove it to you – so why do I continue to harbor and support what many today regard to be myths, legends, fantasies, or even acute mental illness? How is it that I can believe in the face of so many arguments that seemingly assert that the Christian faith (and other religions) are simply the relics of bronze age educational immaturity?

It's not that I ignore the arguments. In fact, I know them pretty well. I've not only read Dennis' posts frequently – and much more than these – I have. It's not like I haven't heard of the skeptic's bible or skeptical positions. It's not that I haven't ignored the theories of Dawkins, the scientific minds of brilliant physicists, or the many arguments of the non-religious. Many of their findings are rooted in scientific fact and evidence, that's undeniable. I don't ignore the arguments. I don't even reject the arguments. The fact is, much of what they say can be evidenced as fact in reality – in our universe and in our realm. 

So how do I reconcile the fact that they may be correct in some things and yet I am still a Christian?
  • I believe in the existence of other realms beyond our scientific evidences of our realm.
This may be the most important belief structure that I carry. Science itself has proven that there are multiple, parallel dimensions well beyond our own, separate and distinct. I embrace this belief and reality, and I believe that what many call “Heaven”, and what many call “Hell”, and other realms in between, are simply what scientists now believe that have theories that point to their existence. This is where I am not able to pull out “proof” to the point. The only thing I can do in regards to this is to believe.
  • I believe in the personal evidence of a personal God in my personal life.
This is equally as important a belief structure as the first thing. That the evidence that I hold is personal, undeniable evidence that no other person beyond myself can prove. I can tell you right now that I am absolutely certain – fully convinced – of the personal intervention of spiritual beings in my life – interventions in my path, interventions that have saved me from harm, interventions in daily life, warnings that have stopped me from certain catastrophe – even direct angelic experiences. There is no other explanation to me. This is personal. This will not, and cannot stop those of whom I might share these experiences with from attempting to use the rules, laws, and physics of our universe to attempt to explain these away – using arguments of illusion, illness, coincidence, irrational thought, and you name the other twenty thousand explanations they would come up with. Yet personally – to me – there is no other explanation as to where I am today except for the direct intervention of spirit beings in my life. It is the only thing that makes sense to me.

Now, what about my belief in Jesus Christ, and in God? Even if many can accept the reality of some sort of higher power – that can stop for many when it comes to the claims of Jesus and of God as written in thousands of year old scriptures. The only answer that I can give is this:
  • Believing in Who and What Jesus Christ and God is – and the Holy Spirit – is a matter of personal conviction and faith and cannot be proven in any other way. It's a sole choice.
There will always be, and has always been, countless physical arguments concerning the things of God and Jesus Christ. There will always be those who will look at the Bible “literally” and will “literally” debunk tens of chapters and thousands of scriptures that do not fit with reality by any shape or form. There will be many who will look at some scriptures and literally refute talking donkeys, burning bushes, worldwide floods, six days of creation and one day of rest, manna – and taking it clear to the resurrection of dead bodies being raised, earthquakes, three hours of darkness, and you can go on and on with the literalism. The truth is, I wasn't there. You weren't there. We are not familiar with the writing styles and allegorical styles of thousands of years ago. We will never get a full grasp of what the whole story really was. The problem happens when you begin to take our translations of scripture as completely literal and fully perfect (there have been full scriptures added, and words removed or changed, depending on the translation.) The other problem happens when your understanding is that there is nothing beyond the box beyond the “written word”. I do not pretend to know the whole story. I do not pretend to have all the answers. What I do know is that I believe in the main point of the story – the central focus of Love, of God, how man fell from Grace, and was reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ, and all that entails in the age of grace and reconciliation to the Father in this present age. Misunderstandings only happen when you look at things perfectly and literally and miss the overall big picture.

Then there's the elephant in the room I need to talk about. What about “Old Testament Bible God”? What about all of the blatantly horrible things that are mentioned in Numbers? And Deuteronomy? Kings? And other OT books? What about that? Do atheists have a point here? Are they right that Bible God is exactly what they say He is? And that Old Testament God and New Testament God seem to be two very different Gods – or one very Bi-Polar God? How does one reconcile the things that Old Testament God did or endorsed – with the things New Testament God condemns? Does this make any sense? Are we just to ignore the arguments of those who see these things and are bold enough to point them out? Are we to simply ignore them and say “We don't have all the answers”? Should we brush those points out?

No. I don't believe we should. There's a lot in the Old Testament that is cringe-worthy to read. There's a lot that is horrific. A lot that is very gruesome and a lot that we know is unacceptable in a civilized society. No one is going to claim that such things are permissible “just because God did it so we can too”. If we were to believe that then we've missed the whole point. So how then do we approach this?

I can only tell you how I approach it. First, I believe that through the beginning of time to the end of time that the realms of love have always existed, and that God is and always has been love. Scripture is clear that God has always been love, and changes not, yesterday, today, and forever. Love is and always has been the nature of God, through and through. We know that is the foundation of all things holy – love. Second, I know that something happened from modern man's rise in civilization – the introduction of wickedness and evil from what we read in the Bible are called “the Serpent”, and “the Watchers” otherwise known as the “Nephilim”. We know this wickedness rose to horrific proportions, according to scripture. We know that mankind was categorically evil through and through, due to the interference of the “serpent”, the “watchers” and the “Nephilim”. Do I have proof of these things? No, I do not. It is simply a matter of belief.

It is my belief that in order to be reconciled to God the “fully evil” mankind had to be made “fully aware” of their condition and their need for a Savior to reconcile them to God. This then is where the prophets came in and the Law was made known so as to bring people to a place where repentance could finally be achieved, and where Love could come down and reconcile mankind to the Father, once, and for all. I am not going to sit here and claim that I know all the answers to the OT God/NT God questions. Because I do not have the answers. It is only by faith and by belief that I can state this: That just because we do not know the answers completely does not mean that we have to have it all figured out. There is much we must admit we don't know, and things we think we know and understand and have to admit we absolutely do not understand. It is not shameful to admit we don't know it all, but to trust that those things will be answered in due course. It is more shameful to try to convince others of things we say we know and actually do not, then to admit we do not know when asked if we know.

It can seem difficult to live a life of belief in a world where physical evidence is absolutely mandatory in modern life to show fundamental truth because our belief is in what is beyond our reality, and what is beyond our realm. It is beyond us. This is what Christianity demands, though. Christianity demands belief in the unbelievable. Christianity demands we believe what Christ has told us. Christianity demands we take Jesus for his WORD. Christianity demands we surrender ourselves and let Christ lead the way to the other realms we know nothing of, but have personally and unexplainably yet undoubtedly experienced. Christianity demands faith in those things which have not yet been seen, and belief in that which has not been revealed. This is the life of the Christian. This is the life of faith. It's a life that seems to the atheist to be crazy, insane, ill, illogical, redundant, misguided, ridiculous, bronze-ageish, mythological, fantastical, immature, unreasonable, and uneducated in every sense of our physically minded realm. But personally, it's anything but. Personally, it's a whole different picture. It's meaningful, reliable, calming, assuring, relieving, clear, fully visioned, fully seen, grateful, truthful, and – and this is the main point – absolutely undeniable. But you can't convince anyone else of what you know is true, because it's personal. And it's real – but only to you. And your God who has a personal relationship with YOU.

And in that is the whole point which physics, literalism and atheism cannot and will never see, feel, or grasp. Which leads Christians to be seen to be illogical, unreasonable, insane, mentally ill, and uneducated.

If that's how it seems, that's how it seems. Because it's a personal link to a personal God. And there's no other way to explain it. And there never will be any other way to explain it. Not now, not ever.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

All I can say is 'AMEN' ASB

nck said...

Good points SHT. It seems you will not be phased by "externalities".

On the "Promised Land" topic I made a point about people who would not be "phased" by externalities if they had their priorities straight.

Somehow when the point is made about those in Armstrongism it turns into a "blame the victim" argument.

I like unphased focussed on the good people.

nck

Opinionated said...

Why do you believe as you do? Magical thinking. People do it with a lot of thing's. Faith in a concept without proof is processed through your own confirmation bias...

But as I say, believe as you want. I don't care and won't hold it against you.

Anonymous said...

Your beef isn't really with atheists. It's with other theists. It's with logic. It's with your abdication of your own integrity.

"This is what Islam demands, though. Islam demands belief in the unbelievable. Islam demands we believe what Muhammad has told us. Islam demands we take Allah for his WORD. Islam demands we surrender ourselves and let Allah lead the way to the other realms we know nothing of, but have personally and unexplainably yet undoubtedly experienced. Islam demands faith in those things which have not yet been seen, and belief in that which has not been revealed. This is the life of the Muslim. This is the life of faith. It's a life that seems to the atheist to be crazy, insane, ill, illogical, redundant, misguided, ridiculous, bronze-ageish, mythological, fantastical, immature, unreasonable, and uneducated in every sense of our physically minded realm. But personally, it's anything but. Personally, it's a whole different picture. It's meaningful, reliable, calming, assuring, relieving, clear, fully visioned, fully seen, grateful, truthful, and – and this is the main point – absolutely undeniable. But you can't convince anyone else of what you know is true, because it's personal. And it's real – but only to you. And Allah who has a personal relationship with YOU."

Meh. Same old, same old, rehash of the defunct and broken. Tell me why you make this exception for one unprovable idea, but refuse to make the same exception for every other equally unprovable idea. Tell me why you're inconsistent and then you might just be onto something. Just another exercise in special pleading. Another exercise in lousy thinking. Another exercise in defending the indefensible. Another exercise in defending the abdication of integrity and principles.

2 Corinthians 11:14b ...For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

And even your own bible casts doubt on your "personal experiences." Even if your solipsitic religious experiences had an other-worldly source, you have no way of knowing the identity of the source, or that it's purpose isn't to deceive you.

Anonymous said...

Science is limited, even in its study of the natural world. It hasn't any tools to study the supernatural, if there is any such thing. The question for me isn't, "Can I prove that God exists, etc.?" but, "Is it more reasonable to believe than to not believe?" I have enough faith to be a theist, but not enough to be an atheist.

DennisCDiehl said...

SHT said: " I can tell you right now that I am absolutely certain – fully convinced – of the personal intervention of spiritual beings in my life – interventions in my path, interventions that have saved me from harm, interventions in daily life, warnings that have stopped me from certain catastrophe – even direct angelic experiences. There is no other explanation to me. This is personal."

First of all, I completely understand the reality of events that could have ended our lives , didn't for some reason and it is completely normal to attribute them to divine intervention and protection when in a church environment. It is natural and something expressed by people of all faiths when something almost happened to them that didn't or did and they recovered etc.

I just want to relate the downside of being overly public and enthusiastic about our perceived divine interventions and yet be unaware or careless around those that also have their faith and suffered a loss without intervention or protection within the same community.

At a Festival back in the day my church area and others close by had suffered horrible losses of children through drowning, farm accidents leading to rather difficult deaths from which I will spare us the details and auto accidents etc. One minister during his sermon went on and on about a miraculous intervention by God that saved one of his congregants children etc. It was a long story and while I understood his enthusiasm to impress God's intervention, he was not aware of was not thinking that any number of families in such a large crowd had not received such a blessing. They got a funeral and all in the same context of the church. While he is going on and on about God's intervention they are reliving the horror and dying inside refeeling guilt and asking why they were not so blessed. It was very unwise of the minister to do this I am sure he was simply oblivious to the fact that the audience may have had dozens of such families regrieving their loss and perhaps losing faith or the ground they had gained since the death and no protection.

At lunch I approached him and had this chat with him about being careful and being aware of such brethren in the audience who were being forced by his good tale to relive their bad one. He looked at me like I was stupid and moved on. Oh well, I tried.

Just a note here to be careful in such matters in public and aware of the feelings and challenges in the loss of their children in the same Church environment and all the chaos and doubt that brings with it.

Personally to me, time and chance happens to all of us. I have escaped weird and near fatal things as a pastor (near plane crash, near falling out of one (don't laugh), missing a flight hit by a fighter jet over LA, inexplicable headon crash that ...I don't know what didn't happen there as I thought "It's finally happened to me", but I learned my last words would be "oh shit...' :)

TLA said...

We are the survivors.

Only people who survive are around to give credit to the miracles and coincidences in their lives.
I have been reading the Bible without pre-conceived ideas and trying not to force it into my belief system.
The problem we had and some still have is this:

Discovering meaning where there is no meaning.

GrittyMan said...

Believers of every religion believe. And if there was any sort of agreement among religions, especially among the world's major religions about what to believe then the argument to believe would be much stronger. But if one is a Christian believer then is it a coincidence that you were raised with the washing of the brain of a Christian environment and worldview. But if one had been born in India you would very likely be a Hindu believer due to the washing of the brain by a Hindu environment and worldview. Thus, in most cases, believing is not something given to one, it is something acquired through one's environment. And if there is only one god and one truth and one correct belief, how can one be sure one has found it, and why isn't this god able to convince all those willing to believe to believe the orthodox belief?

Anonymous said...

SHT said: If that's how it seems, that's how it seems. Because it's a personal link to a personal God. And there's no other way to explain it. And there never will be any other way to explain it. Not now, not ever.
My comment: I personally share this type of faith in Christianity, but it seems that other people fail to apply it in the same way I apply it. This does not mean that the biblical God is active in everything we do and how we do it. When we see God as the source of life and the development of a character that is revealed in the life of Jesus the Christ there is a personal connection that is spiritual. Our focus on life goes beyond the daily routine of things and there is a Holy Spirit that we can call on to guide us in developing a character that a Godly kingdom requires. This developing process is not a universal process due to diversities in every individual. In my personal life I find that the good, bad, and ugly have been stepping stones to the end product of accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior with the desired Faith, Hope, and Love the eternal kingdom God offers. My prayers go out for those that desire to be in God's Eternal Kingdom ASB

Byker Bob said...

This is the major mental conflict amongst people leaving Armstrongism: to believe, or not to believe. Can anybody point to any alternative dominant discussion as a forum and blog topic which we’ve seen over the past twenty years? I think not. This is the one that dominates, and neither side ever wins, although each side believes that it has, and does an occasional victory dance.

Personally, I’ve participated from both perspectives, that of non-belief, and that of belief. The people who are in the midst of the process of leaving Armstrongism at any given time are the only ones whom I’ve seen as vulnerable and maleable, and even that generally lasts only during the short time period when they are actively searching for fresh answers which will carry them through the rest of their lives. Which way they will ultimately go doesn’t much depend upon how persuasive any of us are as individuals in our arguments. It more depends on their personal experiences, such as what their dominant background might have been prior to Armstrongism, the level of insanity they experienced while part of Armstrongism, and the natural inclinations that are hardwired into them. Were they docile, were they quite spirited? Are they gregarious, or natural loners? Were their family members also deceived by the scam, and are they still part and parcel of it? Are they close to their families, or perhaps even still controlled by them in their adulthood? Do all the failed prophecies still haunt them as if suddenly they could end up being real?

We were all taught to pick and choose, and guess what? There are plenty of viewpoints here, eloquently expressed. When in crisis, people generally seek validation or reassurance for the way in which they are already naturally inclined. And, there is bound to be someone here whose line of thought resonates with the inner depths of the new seeker’s soul. The result is that one more individual passes through the process of becoming “unscrewed”, and another voice emerges, another advocate in the sea of voices for a particular point of view. The debate continues and remains the same, except that one more person has taken a side. The debate is never resolved in a universal manner which all then accept. Each person resolves it as an individual in his or her own mind. So, yes. It is personal. All beliefs and nonbeliefs are personal.

BB

What About The Truth said...

SHT, excuse me for a minute while I clear away the feathers clouding the air.

To put forth belief as the crown jewel to a mixed audience who have witnessed and experienced firsthand the unsettled nature of what has always been an easily exchanged and defined and redefined platform isn't going to move the intelligent minds that frequent here. From one man and one church unto 600+ is a glaring example of what can happen to belief.

That you would go on and talk about the reconciliation of mankind to God as having happened and presently happening as a whole is I would think almost un-provable. Where is the example of this in the non believing world and where is the example of it to an extent in the religious world.

And finally, you would in this post paint the picture of God as being in a bad mood for 4000 years and his conduct wouldn't even measure up to what is modern civilization standards. Defining God to the standards of man is the equivalent defining which political belief is the best course for the well being of the world populace. It is a hard sell in the religious community just as political sanctity is a hard sell in the political community.

Without you elaborating further, I think you missed a great chance for a witness unto others. That you are where you are in your life even considering the circumstances is applaud-able. Use your talents and look into to those three subjects a little further. There are a lot more answers there that can be considered and brought forth to propose an opinion or solidify a belief.

Near_Earth_Object said...

"I believe in the personal evidence of a personal God in my personal life."

While I get the point above, let me hasten to add that this is not the only basis for belief in God. I believe that the weight of scientific evidence supports the existence of God as creator. For example, the existence of the human mind cannot be plausibly attributed to Darwinian mechanisms. The mind cannot be attributed to chemical reactions within our gray matter. (See the writing of prominent philosopher Dr. Thomas Nagel, who is an atheist.)

Taking the step from Theism to Christian Theism does involve supernatural elements. The NT refers to the process of Calling. One does not unilaterally choose to become a Christian. The quotation above more appropriately falls into that category.

TLA said...

BB - your comment is very insightful.
My process was/is:
1) look at other splinters and consider trying them out, then decide there was no point to it.
2)try non COG Christian group (still doing this)
3) reconsider the Bible infallibility
4) try and decide where I fall between atheism (Dennis) and belief (SHT).
It is an interesting journey - destination still unknown!

nck said...

7:54

Good thing TLA is not Fazed by Phasing.

Nck

What About The Truth said...

Damn, Byker - that was an ridiculously insane spot on analysis of the walk out. If I would have seen what you have written here on either of my walk-outs it would have put me in a mental asylum. It is too hardcore honest for a person in a vulnerable position to read. It puts the mind in a maze with too many hazards and trip-ups, uncertainty around every corner, fragile foundations under foot, dim non-perceptive light one minute, blinding light the next and no way to be sure the destination would be any better than the departure point.

The departure is fraught with risks for all that walk away. How much can a person get right with out getting a lot wrong. Radicalness abounds with many and others just walk away. Are some taking it into their own hands for complete peace of mind while others look to God for guidance? And is peace of mind the common denominator in it all?

SHT sells himself short. Belief gets the foot in the door, conviction slams the door shut. Belief is too influenced by man, where conviction sees through it. Belief gets too easily led astray by circumstances, conviction holds the line.

That analysis Byker takes all the fun out of the journey for a person looking deeply into it. It also in a way interferes with the working of Jesus Christ who has to gather his flock out of captivity from many different places. An analysis so strong in its truthfulness that it could be a road block to some who have just escaped, who may just continue on running right out of the flock.

Anonymous said...

everybody has a personal god...the problem is that the vast majority have the wrong one.

Anonymous said...

SHT wrote, "Christianity demands belief in the unbelievable."

That is absurd! That sentence sums up a reality in which someone would be forever lost, yet you seem to think that you have already been found. Now, if a God has found you, how could that be provable by science, let alone your own senses?

Let me rephrase this in another way for you that might be more helpful. Did God turn his back on us, or did we turn our backs to God? Is it God's responsibility to find us, or is it the other way around? I must warn you though, because if you believe you have found God, then how could you prove that? You could use the "God of the gaps" theory, that might help, but it isn't science. And if we stay true to our senses, science will always fill that gap. As a philosophical theist, I'm still finding my way too.

DBP

jim said...

TLA, i think it matters whether you start from a position of life has meaning (not an accident) or whether it doesn’t (an accident).
Looking at the world I believe from observation and study that it is not an accident, and thus has meaning.
That seems to be the first step for me.

jim said...

Christians desire to fully know God because we believe He has the answers. Yet, there are gaps and “contradictions”.
Others desire to fully understand science because they believe it has the answers. Yet there are gaps and contradictions.
This coming from a scientist.