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 :)
Teachings of Jesus (or whomever wanted people to believe in Jesus and Christianity)-
What is the message, really? Believe in me and have eternal life – or else? What’s the alternative- the writers clearly tried to use fear as a motivator.
Granted, some of these are parables, but what is the obvious message?
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
2 John 1:9-11 ESV
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Luke 19:27 ESV
But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
John 14:12 ESV
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
John 6:50-71 ESV
This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. ...
Once again, Jesus’ so-called teachings are not unique to Jesus or Christianity- they were borrowed as Christianity evolved to make the mythological features of Jesus as powerful as any other figure of worship and Christianity as powerful and believable as any other existing religion.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”-
Again, this “teaching” is not Jesus’
The Bible- a bestseller-
This means absolutely nothing- the religion virus is very “infectious” and has had centuries to evolve. And there are many other “holy” books, and many other popular gods have existed before Christianity- Jesus has only been popular for the last 2000 years- not really very long in the time span of human existence. And all the previous popular gods, who were worshiped by hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, have all perished with the societies that invented them.
Move to the Middle East- they have bigger “best sellers” there for you to believe in. And Allah and Mohammed are much more popular there than Jesus.
Ethnocentrism – a wonderful thing.
Quotes “taken out of context or are illustrations that are conveying a deeper principle and one that is not violent at all”
Of course, they are always out of context, and they always show some deeper meaning. And of course, you could also counter with so many scriptures on love and peace and service and healing, etc, etc. Then I could counter with all the atrocities
And we could counter-counter forever about the nice stuff and the bad stuff, etc., etc.
The New Testament had to evolve to something nicer - the world changed. The god of the Old Testament was a horrible creature and the New Testament tried to fix that - but to me, the attempt at making it better with a human sacrifice, although it may have been ok for the first century when people still accepted animal sacrifices as legitimate, is simply unacceptable.
Biblical quotes as statistical outliers-
Really? So are you saying they can be discarded or ignored because they are statistical outliers?
And if I was misunderstood, I apologize- I meant to say Jesus’ life as portrayed by the Bible is hearsay. And, personally, I don’t like the word “scripture.” It makes the Bible sound like more than it really is- as I’ve said before, for the most part, its a book written by non-scientific, racist, misogynistic men.
Prayer may, and I emphasize may, make people feel better, like meditation, exercise, etc. Even if it does serve this purpose, regardless of its mechanism, to me it is nothing more than a glorified magical belief. And if you think you can cause a deity to intervene on your, or someone else’s, behalf, to me it is really nothing more than an infantile need to be the center of the universe - I mean, really, humans can control or influence a god? Wouldn’t that make you more powerful than god, at least for the moment he, she, it obeys you?
Pray all you want, just leave me out (and all others who do not share your beliefs) and please, tell all your Christian friends to stop trying to force my kids to pray to your god in our public schools. Yes, I am fighting this battle, and the battle of the Ten Commandments, with religious morons in TN. This is where I have a very difficult time with Christians - and I am getting very tired of it (not to mention the altered Pledge that my kids have to hear every morning in school and the moronic national motto of “In God We Trust” that historically and Constitutionally ignorant Christians keep spewing out to justify prayer in schools, etc.- but I digress, sorry).
Sorry, I may be able to try to comprehend explanations for why cultures sacrificed children, slaves, prisoners of war, etc., but I cannot accept human sacrifice as morally justifiable - even if it was god creating a son to be killed as a "human sacrifice."
Self sacrifice is not even close to taking the life of an innocent person to appease a god.
Finally, as I’ve said before, the world has witnessed the following progression- animism, polytheism, monolatry, monotheism. It may take hundreds of years, but monotheism will be replaced by something else - freethought, agnosticism, atheism, who knows..
(And although I would like to share my specialty with you, I live in a small community with a majority of Christians in TN - people here are distinctly different and less friendly if/when they discover I'm not a Christian, so I'd rather maintain some anonymity- my name here isn't even my real name- sad, but true, that I have to be concerned about my identity as a non-Christian for business and social reasons)
Good luck with USMLE part 1. May knowledge bless you.
And, if you are ever interested, some leisure time reading for you (after your USMLE):
Thanks for your reply :)
"What is the message, really? Believe in me and have eternal life – or else? What’s the alternative- the writers clearly tried to use fear as a motivator.
Granted, some of these are parables, but what is the obvious message? "
The obvious message in the teachings of Jesus as a whole, IMO, are simply to love and serve others no matter the cost (healing, feeding, clothing, etc), to never lie even if it leads to your own death, and to realize that everyone on this earth is equal and valuable. To see others perspectives as relevant and meaningful, even if they are not my own. That we are all children of the universe and the only thing that makes me any different as a son of the King from someone who doesn't believe in the "king" is that I know and live within the kingdom here and now as a prince and my brother who stands beside me denying the kingdom is missing out on his birthright. that makes him no less a son of the king. I could go on and on, but that is the gist of it.
Of the scriptures you quoted above, I tend to be a bit wary of the ones that are other christians ideas about what christianity and the church should be. Remember, I am not like most xians in that I believe the bible is the infallible word of god. The other verses from Jesus that you quoted, with the exception of the verse in Luke, are all parts of a larger picture and do not convey his message individually. I should point out that the quote from the parable in Luke is not Jesus' words about himself, but if you go back and read the entire chapter, you will see that this verse is him quoting the nobleman in the story he is telling. See Luke Chapter 20 and Matthew 22 for parallel stories for comparison.
"Once again, Jesus’ so-called teachings are not unique to Jesus or Christianity- they were borrowed as Christianity evolved to make the mythological features of Jesus as powerful as any other figure of worship and Christianity as powerful and believable as any other existing religion." I never said they were and I completely agree with you. Not sure where you are going with this, but you are correct :)
"Ethnocentrism – a wonderful thing." I agree, yet still doesn't change the fact that it is as it is.
Do you believe in aliens?
"The New Testament had to evolve to something nicer - the world changed. The god of the Old Testament was a horrible creature and the New Testament tried to fix that - but to me, the attempt at making it better with a human sacrifice, although it may have been ok for the first century when people still accepted animal sacrifices as legitimate, is simply unacceptable." Once again, you are entitled to your opinion of what is acceptable and what is not. I do not personally practice ritualistic sacrifice but I also realize that I am not in a place to judge those who did or do. Maybe there is something to it that I am missing...
"Really? So are you saying they can be discarded or ignored because they are statistical outliers?"
Yes, I am saying that I have no problem disregarding statistical outliers especially since it is all emanating from hearsay anyways. :)
"And if I was misunderstood, I apologize- I meant to say Jesus’ life as portrayed by the Bible is hearsay. And, personally, I don’t like the word “scripture.” It makes the Bible sound like more than it really is- as I’ve said before, for the most part, its a book written by non-scientific, racist, misogynistic men." I completely understand your perspective here. :)
"I mean, really, humans can control or influence a god?" = Not that I know of
"Wouldn’t that make you more powerful than god, at least for the moment he, she, it obeys you?" = It would which is why this view on prayer, to me, is childish and ridiculous.
"please, tell all your Christian friends to stop trying to force my kids to pray to your god in our public schools." = I do tell them every chance I get. :)
"This is where I have a very difficult time with Christians - and I am getting very tired of it" = Me too. It is frustrating and exhausting, but all we can do is continue to educate the ignorance out of them and love them and forgive them :)
"Human sacrifice- Sorry, I may be able to try to comprehend explanations for why cultures sacrificed children, slaves, prisoners of war, etc., but I cannot accept human sacrifice as morally justifiable - even if it was god creating a son to be killed as a "human sacrifice."" = Once again...I do not believe in human sacrifice either, however, I think there is something there that we are missing...the point I guess and the contextual aspect r/t the time.
"Self sacrifice is not even close to taking the life of an innocent person to appease a god." = I completely agree.
"Finally, as I’ve said before, the world has witnessed the following progression- animism, polytheism, monolatry, monotheism. It may take hundreds of years, but monotheism will be replaced by something else - freethought, agnosticism, atheism, who knows.." = I completely agree...who knows :)
"Good luck with USMLE part 1. May knowledge bless you." = Thanks! And I am looking forward to checking out the readings!