Ok guys, here are my two main posts from Jenn's discussion, please repost at minimum your latest reply to me when you join...Thanks!
Congratulations to you and your husband!
I am new to this thread and I admit that I did not read all of the comments up to this point, but if it is not too late, I would like to encourage you in you rrelationship with Rachel.
First, a little bit about me: I grew up in the south and the traditional church and rejected Christianity around the age of 12. I spent the next ~ 10 years pursuing Atheism in the sense of being a LaVeyan Satanist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism#LaVeyan_Satanism (as are many Athiests whether they know it or not) until I was almost 22. I was completely anti-christ and anti-religion. I sold drugs and threw parties...among other things. After wandering through spiritual darkness for many years I had come to realize that I was in a place Jesus called Hell. I made some spiritual decisions and decided that I was rejecting Christianity even though I knew so much about it having grown up in it, but there was something I felt like I was missing. Something I did not understand and to me, the highest form of ignorance is rejecting that which I do not understand. I decided to submit myself to the teachings of Jesus Christ and that is what I did. I came to realize that what He teaches is so far from what the church as a whole teaches. Over the last 8 years since I gave my life to the mystery of the Christ within us and found my place as a Son of the Most High God, who is simply Life and Love. Now, I am a registered nurse and will be a doctor in less than two years :) In the last 8 years of studying scripture, seeking wisdom, and serving and loving people through the anointing (literally: the Christ) in me, I have come to learn many things. A few of those things, I would like to share because I think they might help.
1) The teachings of the church and many of the dogmatic doctrinal ideas of most Christians are not what Jesus taught. They are fueled by the demonic spirit called Religion and they keep our Father's children from truly entering into a relationship with Him. Jesus taught us simply 1) to love God (God = Love, Love= God, God = Life, Life = God, etc) and 2) to love others as we love ourself. He commands us to heal people, to feed people and to simply serve others in selfless love. He DOES NOT command us to build his church or to convince others to become Christians. He does tell us to spead the word of the Kingdom of heaven which He says twice in scripture is a spiritual place here among us right now. This means to let people know that they are truly all children of the Most High God, children of Life and children of Love. We are commanded to tell them that they can, in fact, have a personal relationship with the force of Life that permeates the entire universe. I say this all to point out that your friend Rachel is probably sick of religion as are many people. This is key to understand. Jesus tried to minister to the "Christians" of His day...they were called the Pharisees. He soon came to turn the focus His ministry on the "Atheists" of the day...the Gentiles. My point is that Jesus didn't push religion...he didn't even like religion...He pushed Love and Freedom and Service and Healing etc, etc...
2) I have been in ministry (service) for the last 8 years and I can tell you that it was a while before I came to realize that, although I know many awesome christian brothers and sisters that really do love me, I have many people in my life that are atheists, wiccans, hindus, etc that have loved me regardless of my life path and have always been there for me. These are my true family. I share this to point out that it is your love for Rachel and your acceptance of her no matter what and this attitude is what is going to win her and keep her as your close friend in this situation. You well know that the manifestation of the Spirit of God in and through you will reveal itself as love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, self-control in your relationship with her. This is what we are called to sister...not religious ideas and dogmas. To point, would any of those (love, joy, peace, etc) push Rachel away if you expressed them to her? No. Would religious ideas about Jesus? Yes. The religion would, but the true Spirit of Christ will not push away or destroy relationships...even more evidence that religion is not what Jesus is about for He would never push any away from Himself. With that said, my friends know that I love our Father and have found my path via the teachings of Christ and I do have opportunities to talk about those teachings on rare occasions, but only when they bring it up. The church tells us that we have to beat people up with evangelism, but I am here to tell you to NOT feel guilty for not pushing Jesus (the religious Jesus) on her. I have come to understand that for me to say I have to "convince" someone to become a Christian, is to say that I do not have any confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to do His job. It is the presence of the a pure Spirit of Love in one's life that brings them to repentance, not clever arguments and convincing. Loving her is more powerful than any sort of convincing that your words could ever do...this is the presence of the Spirit within you operating in her life. (I do understand that you will miss the fellowship with her and that is expected, but do not give up hope and control yourself when the urge comes to discuss Jesus-stuff with her. I actually, have learned many ways to talk about spiritual things with those that despise Jesus including words that are non-offensive etc. It is nice to be able to have an entire conversation about Jesus and important spiritual things without saying "Jesus" or other trigger words. If you are interested and think it might be useful to you, I would be happy to share some of that with you :)
3) I want to briefly address the Hell issue. I don't know about heaven or hell after this life and I am sure you have your own ideas. However, I want to encourage you to not concern yourself with whether or not Rachel will go to hell when she dies, but rather be concerned that she may find it here on Earth before then. Continue to be a source of grace and mercy and unrelenting love to her and your light in her life will be a constant beacon if she should begin to find herself traversing into the deeper layers of the underworld. I have seen the depths of hell...maybe even as deep as Tartaros and I can say that the only way I found my way into the kingdom, into complete freedom, was because I had faithful people in my life daily praying for me and loving me regardless. Pray constantly and faithfully.
4) I did see at the beginning of this thread where you said that you had many Christians telling you that to continuing a relationship with her would mean being "unevenly yoked". I bet you have also heard the one about "what fellowship can light have with darkness?" or something to that effect. Let me tell you now that those people, while having good intentions, are wrong, IMO. The pharisees only hung out with other pharisees and religious christians hang out with other christians. Jesus tried to hang out with the "religious christians" of His day and soon got sick of it. So, He decided to hang out with the godless and the druggies and the crazies and the rejects, etc, etc. He loved those that were free from religion and offered love and acceptance to those among them who could find it no where else. By pursuing her, you are following the example of Christ more than most Christians are and will begin to see Him in places and understand His love in ways that most Christians will never know. So, you keep it up and don't listen to that demonic religious spirit that will try to convince you through others (many of whom you trust and probably have the deepest respect for) to leave her alone. (As an aside, I would love to hear of any other arguments "christians" may try to throw at you in an attempt to get you to abandon her...)
Well, I could ramble on and on as I am rather long-winded, but that addresses most of the main points that I wanted to touch on. Forgive me for the deepness in some areas and some of the spiritual ambiguity in others. I was hesitant about posting such an openly christian response in this forum...thought about sending it privately instead, but I guess the response shall be interesting if nothing else. I am looking forward to hearing how things go and will pray that you and Rachel may both continue to find freedom from religion while at the same time, growing and strengthening your relationship with the Father of all of creation, whose Son is Jesus Christ and whose children are Rachel and Jenn (among others as well ;)
I am not sure how it is you can suppose to know me well enough to attack me so based on a single post of mine. I will briefly address your concerns, however, if you would like to continue this discussion, maybe you could start a new thread so as to not clog up thread with unrelated conversation.
1) "you're religious, wrong and turning the so called bible upside down, you're sure that gentiles were atheists!" - Ummm...yes, I am sure. The word "Gentile" is derived from the latin word "gens" originally meaning "clan or family". It is translated in the English Bible from the Hebrew texts as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Hebrew word "goy" and from the Greek texts of the New Testament usually as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Greek word "ethnos". The usage of the word "Gentile" in the greek and hebrew texts refers to people who are non-Jews and typically carries the connotation of a broad sense of the all of the people of the time who did not believe in the God of the Jews (i.e. - non-Jews). There are specific scriptures that carry the particular connotation of a person who is god-less (ie - an Atheist: from "-theist) meaning one who believes in a god and the prefix "A-" negating the following suffix) and likens these "atheist" as Gentiles. It's ok if you didn't know this. One really has to study this stuff for oneself to really pick up on these sorts of things.
2) "Atheism is not satanism" You are correct in that Atheis is not satanism. I never said it was. I understand how someone reading quickly through my post might have misinterpretted this idea. What I said was that many Atheist cleanly fit the criteria for LeVeyan Satanism. Have you read the Satanic Bible written by Anton LaVey? There are many shades of Satanism and there are many Atheists who do not fit anywhere within the a-theistic ideas conveyed by LeVey, but there are many who do...I was one of them. www.religioustolerance.org explains LaVeyan Satanism as a "small religious group that is unrelated to any other faith, and whose members feel free to satisfy their urges responsibly, exhibit kindness to their friends, and attack their enemies." Read the Satanic Bible...you can find a free copy here: www.thesatanicbiblefree.com "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
3) "and I was called antichrist but I didn't have anything to do with the devil" I am sorry you were called anti-christ. One can be against (anti-) Christ and not be Satanic or have anything to do with the devil. I believe you. There are many names for spirits that are against Christ...one is Satan, which literally defined, means "the false accuser" Have you ever been accused falsely? If so, then you experienced a Satanic spirit operating through whoever was falsely accusing you. I have encountered him on more than one occasion...even recently I might add :)
4) "and you must have a ton of latent guilt from religion because you're so called wild demonic trip is having fun maybe too much which is constrained by religion and you went to what you know as repenting." I see how you might assume these things, though I can assure you that I am completely free from all guilt. I have been forgiven for everyone I have hurt and every offense I have ever committed. In fact, I have found a place where I live under a pouring rain of perpetual or constant forgiveness. In staying in this place, it allows me to immediately forgive others when they offend or hurt me :) Proof = The fact that I forgive you because your response to my attempt to encourage Jenn was a little hurtful but it is ok, I still love you and would do anything for you and I don't even know you :)
5) "Prove to me you know squat about you're old atheistic ways and state great points that turned you into an atheist." If you would like further proof, please start a new thread and we can discuss it as much as you like. It might be good to give the others who will assuredly attack me a ready avenue to do so without clogging Jenn's thread. Looking forward to talking with you more :)
"If you don't believe in that foundational tenet of Christianity then you are just picking the parts of the message you like and discarding others - so why not just accept that you and you alone have developed your own morality? I don't need an imaginary friend to command me to charity - it comes from my own heart. Failing to acknowledge this of yourself only serves to undermine your own sense of self worth."
The idea of Jesus' sacrifice and the subsequent forgiveness that we find via this, does not in any way allow another to forgive me for my transgression. It does however, teach me how to stand accountable for my offenses, encourage me to submit to life and selfless love through instruction on living in a manner that I am seeking to do the right thing in all that I do (ego syntonia vs ego dystonia) and shows me how to find forgiveness within myself for my myself and subsequently for others. Living in a state of perpetual forgiveness and accountability is a wonderful state to live in. I cannot speak to the many people who do not know this place yet call themselves christians, but I found this place through accepting the sacrifice of Jesus and discovering the Christ (anointing) within me. Someone can come to you and pay you the money I owe you and while that allows you to forgive me of my debt to you, you are correct in saying that this teaches me nothing of accountability. However, I learned true accountability and have been able to put this lesson to practice numerous times in my life with awesome results, so I know for a fact that the lesson is in there cuz that is where I learned it. Can it be learned elsewhere? Sure.
That morality that comes from your own heart, whatever you call it, I call it the pure (holy) spirit of Christ, at least when I am speaking to another christian. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, would it not? In an attempt to be non-offensive we can just call it one's conscience or universal morality or whatever communicates it best to you, I am fine with that. :)
As far as believing the foundational tenets of christianity, well, I have submitted to the disciplines set forth by Christ which makes me a disciple of Christ and to me that is a christian. Whether or not the traditional church as a whole agrees with me I could care less. I have many very mature christian friends that share much of the same perspective as me and also do not care that they do not fit into the religious box the church has built.
"it comes from my own heart. Failing to acknowledge this of yourself only serves to undermine your own sense of self worth." I acknowledge this the same as you and this must be evidenced my my sense of self worth which is that I am a child of the universe as are you and everyone else. Every vessel of life is valuable and precious...is it not?
"The idea of Jesus' sacrifice and the subsequent forgiveness that we find via this, does not in any way allow another to forgive me for my transgression."
That's exactly what I'm talking about - how to YOU find forgiveness via the story of someone else's death? You've already claimed being forgiven through that mythology, and that is where the moral inversion begins.
Just like all the other self-proclaimed prophets coming in here - you claim to have found the 'true' Christianity where others have not. Typically cult leader mentality there, I suggest you turn it on the sheep you intend to fleece rather than wasting it here.
As long as you believe your imaginary friend is real and has any impact on reality you are deluded like all the rest.
Mr. Townsend, I have read your described history and I have to say that you will never become my doctor!
Why you may ask?
Firstly, because religion informs your actions. Since you are obviously deluded and do not perceive the world clearly this makes you a very dangerous doctor.
Secondly, you do not strike me as a rational person and I see your current belief in god and your history as a quite clear evidence of that.
Please Mr. Townsend - do not pursue your doctor ambitions - go get a job where you can not hurt people!
Also, I find it quite ironic that you are a member of TA because you are obviously not equipped with a rational way of thinking. I do not appreciate religious people giving people advise on their religion in an atheist forum. But I'm glad you did so publicly so we have a chance to response to this madness.
Martin, do you know those christians (or fanatical people of any religion) that go around bashing other s with hate-filled speech and personal insults because those others don't believe the same things as them? The ones that go around screaming gays are going to hell and military personnel are horrible people?
Well sir, from your post above, you are striving very hard to present yourself as the atheist equivalent. Please quit speaking for now because you are representing the atheist community horribly. You do not know me at all and to make such hate-filled and uninformed statements regarding my character profoundly displays your ignorance.
Good day sir.
I judge you by what you write in here and I made a comment in that regard. I call it when I see it - and what I see is a subtle and manipulative long letter advice given by a theist to someone seeking help. I consider it damaging.
Obviously you are a theist and not an atheist or a maybe just a _very_ confused one. Your abuse of the term "god" is amazing. Either commit to being a theist or stop using the term "god" as vaguely as you do. Another clear evidence of your confusion is the fact that your profiles religious status is both atheist and Christian - you can not ride two horses like that as they exclude each other. Get your definitions right!
Sorry to poke in so late. I gotta say I agree with "Get your definitions right!" - except...
Were it not for this discussion I would never have confessed this on this board - I've often referred to myself as a "Christian atheist". Naturally every time I do I am challenged. So I go on to explain that there is no god (belief has little to do with it); but some goodly number of Jesus' teachings make a sound basis for a personal philosophy. I do NOT attempt to squeeze God in there anyplace. I have but one life, but, in general, living according to Jesus' "teachings" is a direction I strive for. (But I must say I strive for very little.) Most Christians believe that living within God's laws will bring its reward in the next life. However there IS no "next" life. What makes me a Christian is that I believe that Jesus' teachings (along with other philosophies - religious and otherwise) bring happiness in THIS life.
I especially like the camel/needle parable. (I've never been real good at getting rich.)
One thing further. I know a few people who consider themselves to be "enlightened" (like Chris). There is also a very short list of people who IIIiii consider to be enlightened. As you might suspect, those lists are mutually exclusive.
It seems that we view things very similar in a lot of ways regarding a christian/atheist perspective. I really do not even like to use the word "god" for many reasons and can share my views and beliefs without using the word once. If you have any ideas regarding what you have learned in your journey as far as reconciling how you see Jesus' teachings and how they are relevant to your held ideas on atheism, I would love to hear them.
As far as me being enlightened, I would not go so far to say that I am freed from all ignorance and misinformation, though I do realize that I easily come across that way because I do speak of things that I know about and am confident in my understanding. This doesn't mean that I know everything. I find that when it comes to understanding things like this, the puzzle of life, most people (and I used to) discover a piece and if it doesn't fit properly into their understanding, they just shove it in wherever they think it fits closets...I decided a long time ago that if I encountered a puzzle piece that didn't properly fit, I could speculate as to the probability of it fitting into a particular part of the picture, but that I would not place a piece into the puzzle unless it really is meant to be there...the proper fitting place. I hope I communicated that ok...lol...would love to hear more from you my friend :)
Chris... here is some stuff i found, tell me if this expresses your belief about god...
if so, then please don't tell us you have a christian faith at all. if you truly are a skeptic, then proclaim a gnostic faith, one which ultimately can not be disproved by any discussion as it is not based on fact or truth, but revelation. call yourself a gnostic and be done with the lies you have been professing to be a follower of jesus as you follow 'another jesus' as the bible teaches...
i found this stuff here... > http://www.religioustolerance.org/gnostic.htm
"Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware. It became one of the three main belief systems within 1st century Christianity, and was noted for four factors by which differed from the two other branches of Christianity:
|Novel beliefs about Gods, the Bible and the world which differed from those of other Christian groups.
|Tolerance of different faith groups within and outside of Gnosticism.
Lack of discrimination against women. Although Jesus treated women as equals, and Paul mostly did the same, the other Christian belief systems started to oppress women in later generations. This is readily seen by reading the books in the Christian Scriptures that say they were written by Paul, but were -- according to many mainline and liberal Christian theologians -- in fact forgeries written by unknown authors after Paul's death either:
A belief that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge. In the words of The contemporary Gnostic Apostolic Church, humanity needs to be awakened and brought:
I am familiar with gnosticism and while I do agree with some of their views on things, I am not a gnostic. Thanks for checking though!
i can't believe i read the whole thing. chris, you barf out strongly worded assertions, only to back-peddle and make it seam like the posters here are either a)misreading or b)attacking you. the same with your profile. you wrote a very strongly worded and judgmental diatribe, only to remove it once called on. it's very typical of trolls...make us seem like we are attacking you when you are, in fact, attacking us, no matter how veiled your aggression. you are undebatable in my opinion, and i commend the previous posters.
you see, if you would have come across as truly trying to educate yourself, you would have found a much warmer welcome.