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 :)
Your first paragraph: I know that most christians believe that and most churches teach that, but Jesus does not teach that and that is why I personally get so irritated with all of the religious and dogmatic christians who are out there misconstruing Jesus' teachings and giving him a bad name. I agree with you in that I wouldn't want to have anything to do with someone like that either!
I am not enforcing a religion. I am not here to promote christianity. I did find my path to god via the teachings of Jesus but I can not prove that his way is the only way other than one verse coined by Paul. I am actually at a place in my journey where I am seeking to find if there truly are other paths that lead to the secret place that Jesus leads us to. Honestly, I sincerely hope that there is! I see some evidence of there being, but I can't prove it yet. Give me time :)
I agree that there are many errors in the bible. I am not interested in pointing out what you or anyone has wrong, but I will encourage you in what you have right in a heartbeat!
So Samuel, where are you at in your journey? Do you embrace humanism as well? How do you see things?
"LaVeyan Satanisthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism#LaVeyan_Satanism (as are many Athiests whether they know it or not"
Can you explain your statement, please? I am an atheist. I don't believe in any gods, including Lucifer or Hades. How can one worship something that they don't believe exists? IMO, it seems you are trying to equate atheism to satanism which are two completely different points of views.
Not trying to pull a Scotsman, but what were your thoughts about the world when you considered yourself an atheist? What did you study and learn? What evidence led you back to Christianity? It's also my opinion that if you worshiped Satan of the Bible, you never really left Christianity in the first place...
well put!! it is impossible for an atheist to worship a mythical lucifer and since satan is not a name but a title, which means adversary or foe, then even satan worshippers may not really worship satan.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
so does this mean that Peter, the 'rock on which i will build my church' is actually the devil? if so, well, that is a very interesting interpretation of the personage of lucifer and his role in the bible. this is just one of many interesting controversial passages in the new testament that people use to say it is allegorically written and thus can not be taken literally. however, atheists have a solution, we don't believe in any of it, makes our lives very simple!
I want to thank you first for actually being genuinely interested enough to ask me questions and engage me in real conversation instead of just jumping to conclusions about what I think or how I feel in an attempt to bash me. Unfortunately, out of 4 pages of comments, with the exception of one other person on one instance, you are the only one who has really stopped to explore me and where I am coming from. You are awesome :)
I think most people including myself, grow up being taught about God and Satan and these sorts of ideas in much of a different way than I have come to learn as I have gotten older. Satanism has different branches, some believe in an actual deity, some do not believe in any god at all. The non-theistic satanists are the LaVeyan ones who believe basically, that they walk as god. They are the beginning and the end, they have the power to create and the power to destroy. They love their family and friends and do what they want to do responsibly and if someone hurts them, they are totally fine with hurting back. That is the general foundation of their belief system. We can discuss in further detail if you want, or if you want you can just look for yourself:
So, all I was saying is that this is a form of Atheism. I have come to learn that there are other forms of Atheism and that this one is not the most popular one (as I thought it was) but it seems that humanism is more popular among Atheists. I am here to learn about this sort of stuff, like humanism from people who are actually living by the philosophy.
As far as leading back to christianity, I just always felt there was something I was missing and I was not finding complete fulfillment in my Atheistic belief system. I decided to earnestly study Jesus' teachings (not the teachings of the church) and see if I really was missing something. I figured, if I wasn't missing anything, then I could always go back to Atheism.
So, as you can see, I didn't worship Satan of the Bible, I essentially worshipped material things and ultimately myself. That sounds extreme, but my world revolved around me. I found a heart of selflessness and freedom from my selfish desire through christianity, though I know that christianity is no the only way to do this. This is why I am interested in learning how it is taught through other religions like Atheism.
Thank you for clarifying your position Chris. it is appreciated very much!
for 30 years i was a christian, most of it as a worship leader and teacher and apologist. my move to an atheistic world view was based on many factors, none of which had anything to do with my being selfish or self-centered. the bible presents many 'facts' that can not be validated by the historical record. I spent many years deny that science was accurate, but the evidence is over-whelming in its case against the biblical record. the fact that your study of god and jesus is based on writings outside the biblical record is a concern if you are going to claim relationship with the god contained therein.
as for satanism, again, as i have stated before, satan is a term, not a proper name, and the 'satanist' church claims lucifer as it's deity. i don't believe in the biblical record, nor do atheists as a rule, thus, we can not be called satanists in any form. we are not against any deity, we don't believe they exist.
Your story seems like it is an interesting one. I am a scientist and it is interesting that you have found that science discredits what you knew of as "god" via the bible. I find that many people share that perspective. For me, I love science because it proves the god that I know who can simply be conveyed as Life. To me, life is my god...this is why I am not a true atheist. However, as you well know, that makes me a heretic to religious christians. Oh well. I am ok with that. I love biology, chemistry, biochem, genetics, physics, astronomy, etc, etc, because it delves into the mysteries of the universe...I see the creation as the body of god and the breath of life that spans the universe to be the soul of god if you will...thus the soul of God is force that drives life and ultimately is Life. To me, this is what the scripture teaches and I am not alone in my perspective. Also, I really think many other religions at their core teach this same principle, I can't prove it yet...but I am working on learning and hope to :)
I have just come to learn that there is a form of atheistic belief that is called - anti-theism. Just like there are atheists who are humanist. I am sure there are many others. not all satanists believe that satan is a deity...like a person. Here is the proof if you want to learn more about that: www.thesatanicbiblefree.com So, it is possible to be a special form of atheist that is a special form of satanist. That is all I was saying.
So, i am curious as to what sorts of things led you out of christianity to where you are now. What does atheism look like to you?
if you are saying that nature is your god, then paganism seems to be where you are heading or a wiccan lifestyle may be more closely aligned to your belief system.
when you say science confirms god's existence, then you are not in anyway referring to the god of the bible. science has found very little truth in the texts of scripture. scripture, and i mean the bible here, not the other writings that you subscribe to, are very clear that yahweh is real, and demands our worship as created beings. jesus came to provide a way to god as romans details so clearly. if that is not the basis of your christian claims, then you have delved into the life of a mystic. which is your choice, but you will find much resistance from most forms of christianity which is why you can have this discussion here with a group of atheists and hopefully, get a few more answers and hopefully some new questions to ponder.
my blog contains a short version of my story... please read it and comment if you like and ask questions, i would love to discuss it with you.
btw, as with all man-made religions, there will always be varying opinions within the belief which is why satanism has factions as well.. to me, it perfectly shows the idiocy of religious systems..
I see god in nature, it is actually called transcendentalism and is not paganism or wicca...I have studied both.
Science in scripture? I hate to deflect to a christian site, but this one really is not bad:
I never said that Jesus' teachings don't provide a way to the Father. I know for a fact that they do. Unlike most Christians, however, I am not convinced that he is the ONLY way. I am actually studying to prove that He isn't and that is a conversation that maybe we can have later :)
I am not interested in conforming to christianity or believing anything cuz somebody says i am supposed to. I want evidence. Period. And you are right, I am finding answers and questions!
I agree completely with your last paragraph :)
"This is why I am interested in learning how it is taught through other religions like Atheism."
Atheism is not a religion, nor is it a philosophy. Needless to say, no teachings exist.
Forgive me for the confusion, here is where I was getting my definition from:
As you can see, number 4 says "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith". I consider Atheism to fit this criteria so I feel the freedom to refer to it as a religion. I was sure that it was established on the federal level as an official organization...there is an established atheist church isn't there?
I don't know much about that though so if anyone wants to educate me properly on this then please do so :)
To adhere to a system of beliefs or a cause does not require faith. I agree. For instance, according to this definition, socialism can be correctly classified as a religion. It seems odd to do so, but it is true. So can science for that matter or anything cause principle or belief that one chooses as a foundation for one's paradigm.
As far as atheism being considered an official religion by our government, well...I guess just because the united states of america considers it to be so, you are well within your right to not consider it so. You can see though that this is just more support that lends to my current perspective regarding this? I really am not trying to be difficult. Here is the link to the american convention of athiests: http://www.atheists.org/ and there are state affiliates established in every state!
Given the history of the founders I understand why many atheists don't want to identify with this group, but this is the leading voice for atheism and atheists in America.
And what about these atheists???
See why I am confused?