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Ricky Gervais on The Bible

23 Mar

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Dear Christian: Stop Tithing (and other assorted advice)

9 Jun

Dear Christian-

I know you think I’m just out to poke holes in your faith.  Sometimes I feel that way, but mostly I hate seeing good people, who happen to be Christians, taken advantage of by dishonest clergy who are only out for themselves.

Tithing

Tithing simply means a tenth, and it is a term used in the Old Testament for offerings of cattle, grain, food, and sometimes money.  These offerings of a tenth (10%) were used for the sacrifices of the Temple in Jerusalem and for special feasts throughout the year.  It acted like a type of National tax that funded the Governing bodies of ancient Israel.

As a Christian growing up, I was consistently taught that Christian were supposed to tithe to their local church, just like the Israelites.  I accepted this teaching at face value and began tithing in my late teens.  Once in my early years of marriage I faced some daunting financial situations.  Talking to my pastor at the time, his first question was whether I was tithing.  I told him we were tithing and he seemed pleased and instructed us to keep tithing-even though we were in dire financial straits.

After many years of tithing, I decided to study the topic myself and was surprised to find that tithing is not taught in the New Testament.  Not once are Christian believers commanded to tithe. I also realized that in ancient Israel, the tithe was more like a tax than a donation to a local body of believers.

Non-Profits

Some Christians I knew had come to similar conclusions about tithing, but still felt obligated to give 10% of their income to good causes (missions, feeding the poor, etc…).

The problem I’ve learned, is that many non-profits have loose accountability, and many of the funds can go to expenses totally unrelated to the cause they claim to represent.  So while you may feel good about giving to a poor child in another country, in reality, much of your donation may be going to the overhead of running a non-profit instead of helping out those in need. Not to say that there aren’t good non-profits out there-but do your research before turning over your hard earned money.

Take Care of Your Finances First

My own opinion on finances, is that you should always be able to take care of your own obligations before giving or tithing. What good does it do if you give money to the poor and then end up poor yourself?

Final Observation

It has been my experience, that church leaders who preach a hard and fast rule on tithing are abusive.  They typically are quick to line their own budgets with conferences, expensive offices and church buildings, multiple family vacations, and are often content to preach about giving to the poor and not much else.

If you care about where your money is going…then don’t give to these sort of people.

In my opinion-stop tithing….   Best Regards-CA

Once Upon A Time (I knows a guy)-Part 1

21 Jan

Once upon a time there was a guy, actually he was three guys.  But he wasn’t exactly a guy like you or me, no he (plural-but not) has been around for just about forever.  And one day he decided to do something about being the only guy-I mean three guys-or whatever….

Though he (plural) wasn’t lonely, and had no needs, and was in absolute complete harmony with himself and his alter egos-he decided to create a whole bunch of stuff and fling  it out all over the universe.

After that, he decided to bring life to a whole bunch of creatures. Then he made a creature that looked a lot like himself and told him to a be the man for this whole planet.

Everything was perfect, because everything he does is perfect, because-you know-he’s perfect.

One day, not long after all this perfect stuff came to life.  Something went wrong.

No one really knows exactly why it happened, but it happened.   You’re probably asking yourself  “What happened?”  Well I (singular) am gonna tell you what happened.

The Incredible Talking Snake

One day, a guy (you know-the guy in charge of the planet) and his honey were out picking fruit together at a nudist colony.   Suddenly, this guy’s honey notices a snake approaching her.

She turns to the snake and he begins to talk to her about a special fruit tree that the guy (plural) told her not to eat from.  The talking snake tells her that the guy told her not to eat the fruit, because then she would know about good & evil.  And if she knew about good & evil, then she would be like the guy(plural).  She hesitated, because the guy(plural) told her she would die if she ate from the fruit tree.  But the talking snake swore to God that it was a lie and that she wouldn’t die.

Deciding she had nothing to lose and that the fruit looked really tasty-she ate some.  And guess what, it was tasty and she didn’t die.  So she took some fruit to her guy (singular) and he ate some too.  He didn’t die either….but they did became aware of good & evil and for some reason they realized that they were naked and decided to start sewing some fig leaves to cover their love parts.

Guy (Plural) Gets Ticked

The guy (plural) who is perfect, and made everything perfect, was pretty unhappy when he was taking an evening walk through the nudist camp and realized that the guy (singular) and his honey had eaten from his forbidden fruit tree.  He got so pissed that he kicked the nudists out and then made sure that they, and their children, would be scourged with, death, misery, war, and disease for thousands of years.  Every mother dying giving birth and every starving infant would be a reminder that the guy(plural) was still pretty ticked at how their ancestors had not listened to him.   For thousands of years, the guy and his honey’s ancestors would beg the guy (plural) to save them from their misery-but he just couldn’t bring himself to forgive what had happened.

To be continued…..

 

Young Life Tactics-Cultic or Legit ?

16 Apr

Eric asked a good question that I didn’t want to get lost in the comments of Is Young Life a Cult .

He asked

“does Young Life employ cultic tactics, or do cults and cultish organizations instead use legitimate techniques and manipulate them to accomplish what they want to do?”

The short answer, is that Young Life employs tactics common to cults in many (not all ) instances.  Of course, this is just my own opinion. But it is how I see the issue.

Befriending a vulnerable demographic (teens who are minors) without consent and without being up front about motive is cultic. It’s similar to the tactics of the Boston Church of Christ and Amway.

Friendship, enmeshment, and then indoctrination.

It’s a cultic tactic no matter how you slice it. It doesn’t mean that you or other leaders are not good people or that you don’t really love teens (I’m sure you do).

But, it is dishonest if you are not upfront with someone about your motives for befriending them (in Young Life’s case-to share Christ’s love and present the Gospel from an Evangelical/Fundamentalist perspective).

My Two Favorite Non Stamp Collector Videos

10 Apr

Some Good Questions From Chad

27 Mar
Question Mark Graffiti

Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)

A reader named Chad, recently left a comment on my About post.  I thought he asked some really excellent questions and thought it might make for an interesting post.

Here’s what Chad had to say:

ChristianAgnostic,

Had a chance to review your background and read some of your posts. Fascinating stuff. Never really met anyone who’s migrated from Christianity to agnosticism but seeing as how you had the misfortune of being involved with two cults (YoungLife and SGM) I find myself thinking, “Geez, no wonder this dude became agnostic.”

My question for you is: Isn’t there a part of you that’s even minimally concerned about the whole ‘hell’ thing? That’s not meant to be a rhetorical question or a preamble to some kind of evangelistic pitch or a “love bomb” or whatever. I’m genuinely curious.

You’ve been brutally honest about your assessment of Christianity so I’ll do the same. I’m a Christian and buy into the whole package. Young earth, Noah’s Ark, inerrancy of scripture. I’m totally on board. I’ve gotta say though, the whole concept of eternity, whether it be in heaven or hell, bums me out to no end. It haunts me every day.

When Christians talk about the weaknesses of the atheist and/or agnostic position, they always bring up the utter despair that atheists must feel about the finality of death. Even articles written by atheists acknowledge this despair. But between you and me, I’m thinking, “Why the sadness? This is one of atheism’s primary *benefits*! When you’re dead, your dead. What wonderful freedom. No need to think about the endlessness of heaven and the tortures of hell? Where do I sign up?” I can’t help but think that atheism, or at least agnosticism, would make me a more relaxed person overall. If it weren’t for the hell bit, I’m tempted to think I’d jump ship in a heartbeat. I totally see the appeal of the atheist perspective…

and yet…I have to think…

There must be some part of you that wonders if you made the right decision. You don’t think about hell at all? Seriously? It’s gotta be nagging at you at least a little bit, no?

So let’s jump in and I’ll do my best to answer.

First off, I want to be clear that I have no doubt that SGM is a cult.  When it comes to Young Life, I do not view them as a full-blown cult, but as an Evangelical Ministry that has engaged in some methods of outreach that are similar to tactics used by many cults.  I know this may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but I do not think that Young Life is on the same level as cults such as the Moonies or Jim Jones.   Also, my involvement with these groups are not what led me to agnosticism.  Even after I emerged from these groups, I still was an active Christian seeking to better understand my faith.  It was my study of the Bible, the history of the Bible, and early Church History that led me to conclude that the Bible is most certainly not the inerrant word of God.

As for hell (whether I am worried about it or not) the short answer is no.  I have no reason to believe in a hell because I don’t find any evidence that convinces me that there is an afterlife, let alone an eternal place of torture where an All Knowing, All Loving God sends creatures to be Eternally tortured for his glory and good pleasure.  Besides the fact that hell seems to be contradictory to a God that is loving and Just, I just don’t find any evidence for such a place.  If you think I am uninformed or being cavalier, I can assure you I am not.  Not that long ago I still believed in a literal hell, Young Earth, etc…because I still viewed the Bible as the Word of God.  Not sure if you read my posts on the subject of hell, but here they are if you want to know some of my background on the subject.

Hell,  Hell of A Start,   Hell Hath No Fury,   Hell If I Care,   Hell (for babies?)

As for the despair that some atheists agnostics speak of…I can say I just don’t relate to it.  Sure, if I dwell on the fact that someday I will die and no longer be, it’s a bummer.  But it’s because I currently enjoy a full and satisfying life, surrounded by people I love and projects I enjoy.   I think the bigger bummer, is constantly obsessing whether or not my faith will be good enough or correct enough to please a Heavenly Ruler who will once and for all, bring me to Eternal Bliss or to Eternal suffering.  Since realizing that this is most likely not the case, I do feel free to live my life without the extra burden of wondering whether or not I am doing God’s will.  I still attempt to treat all people with love and respect, but I no longer have the guilt induced teachings of Jesus and the church hanging over my head all of the time.

As for your own struggles,  I assume they stem from the teaching of the Bible.  My only advice would be to study the evidence supporting the idea that the Bible is the true Word of God.  If you find the evidence compelling, then you should be worried.  But if you find the evidence to be lacking, then you should regard the Bible’s teaching on Heaven and Hell in the same way you currently regard the Egyptian’s Book of the Dead teaching on the afterlife.  In other words, in the realm of myths and dead religions that hold no relevance to today.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comment and questions.

Best Regards-CA

Related articles

Guest post: Would you believe in God if no one ever told you?

13 Mar

Very interesting guest post over at Leaving Fundamentalism. Carnun Marcus-Page writes about being the child of Atheist parents who taught him how to think, not what to think.
Check it out when you get the chance…..

Leaving Fundamentalism

Today’s guest post comes from Carnun Marcus-Page. I did a guest post at his blog earlier this week, and he has kindly returned the favour. I want to open the scope of this blog out to look at different avenues for people leaving fundamentalism. Carnun has never believed in any kind of God. Later, we’ll hear from someone who has left fundamentalism but still considers himself a follower of Jesus. 

My school-life experience and secular home upbringing – aspects of my life which are ongoing – could not be further from the fundamentalism Jonny left.

As Proverbs 22:6 will tell you: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

I was not ‘trained’.

From a young age I was taught to value evidence. Everything had a reason, be it why right was right and wrong wrong…

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