Please excuse the novel here... I tend to try to explain myself so clearly that I go overboard, so sorry about that. Also, sorry if this is in the wrong category; I wasn't sure where to put it.
I grew up in a pentecostal Christian household, Assemblies of God to be exact (extremely evangelical believe-every-word-in-the-Bible-exactly group, for those who aren't familiar with it). I remember being told things specifically like "You don't have a conscience; that's the Holy Spirit telling you you're sinning." I remember thinking, "Yeah, because I'm incapable of figuring out when I'm doing something wrong on my own... Riiight."
I knew what hell and demons and Satan were even in early elementary school. I have vague memories of speaking with my school guidance counselor about a ("real," as in not from a movie or a show but documentary style) exorcism I had witnessed. I remember being told horror stories from a youth leader about her experience with demons, which included physical assault on her. I still fear the idea of hell and I've always had a very strong fear of demons (which hasn't gone away).
Anyway, during my journey away from religion entirely I began to be confused by my own thoughts. When I no longer really believed that a God existed and I wondered, "What if I'm wrong? What if I go to hell because of this?" I've had a lot of fear even about just coming to terms with even using the word "agnostic" to describe myself.
Something similar is when I think of things like the fact that I'm going to make sure I have a wedding ceremony with absolutely no mention of God or religion of any sort, something in my head sort of mocks me by saying, "You're just trying to be difficult and defiant." I know that's not true; why would I risk eternity in hell if I really thought it existed? I don't know what that voice is though, or where it's coming from.
Those thoughts aren't always in the front of my mind by they are, and I just keep wondering if they're "God is trying to tell me I'm wrong" or if it's a totally normal human response because leaving a religion can be a scary experience on its own and my brain just needs to relearn things.
I'm not sure if anyone else has this problem, but in a way I'm hoping so because maybe someone could help me understand my "own" thoughts/why I'm having them. Is it normal? I don't really even know if this will make sense to anyone else.
archeopteryx - I believe it was you who told me the other day that Moses didn't write the books that were supposedly "according to" him, but I never knew about the gospels being written anonymously. Very interesting!
And yes, without those books (or even with them but without their credibility) the whole Bible really does just start to crumble to ashes. What's left? Most of Christianity seems to be based on those books alone.
John - Wow! Thank you for all the time you must have put into that. It's a lot to reply to!
"At this time, there would be no evil anywhere other than the mind of God. If evil is in the mind of God when it is nowhere else, it makes evil a part of God, because it will always be in him and it always was in him."
That is something that I've been thinking about for a long time. It doesn't make sense that an all-powerful, righteous God would create and allow evil to exist if he didn't want it there. And for it to exist in the first place, if he created everything, he would have to've created the evil too. It doesn't make any sense.
"The Christian god would be an unknowable stranger."
I find that to be one of those things that is frightening if you really think about it. I would not want to worship something/one that I couldn't possibly comprehend or relate to. The many Christians that I grew up surrounded by say that Christianity is "a personal relationship," not a religion. It doesn't seem like much of a relationship for one person to know everything about their friend but the other to be physically incapable of merely comprehending the other. I doubt I'm alone to say that that kind of faith seems foolish and downright dangerous.
"God made it law that the wages of sin is death. If this is the case, after the heinous crime known as sin has been committed and the just thing to do is to punish, God instead decides to forgo justice!"
Somewhat in line with my reply to the first segment, this is something I've never understood either. If God is truly omniscient and omnipotent, how could he not see everything that was to come and either prevent it from happening or simply wipe the slate clean afterward without the convolution of crucifixion? And if in using, as you put it, a loophole, how can he still be called righteous and good? He can't. The same goes for the 2 Peter 3:9 segment; it's all just a big circle of "but if..."s that never gets anywhere.
I'm not sure what to say in regards to the final segment but it's certainly an interesting thing to know (and share with Christians? Maybe not, lol)
Thank you again for the time you put into your reply! Most of my thoughts on it were internal "nodding" type things... I'm learning, so I'm not sure what to say other than that I agree and how it aligns with what I'd already been thinking.
Wow! Sounds like you're very similar to me (although much farther ahead, obviously!) "Spiritual warfare" was definitely something that was very present in my life, even from an extremely young age. And I, too, have always had some sort of fascination with demonic things (although in a fearful way).
I would love to see what you have to show/tell me! Thank you so much for your insightful, extremely helpful reply! :D
Who are you talking to, dizzy? I can't figure out the indent.
I'm sorry! It seems like the replies get kinda messed up. I sometimes miss replies because of them. If you're referring to the "Wow! Sounds similar to me" post, it was in reply to John's initial comment. Sorry 'bout that!
One other thing I would mention is that they are all your own thoughts. However what we call this is cognitive dissonance. You can have thoughts that don't make sense, or are based out of false premises. Dissonance is the distress experienced when they conflict with others.
Own these thoughts as your thoughts, but address them as well. You have a lot to sort out still. They are based from premises, and those premises need to be evaluated and tested for validity. If you are still having them, then your mind has not been fully convinced of their invalidity. Make sure they are invalid.
I'm sure that a lot of studying and broadening of my mind will help. I just need to bring in more evidence that disproves everything I was taught and get rid of that pre-built foundation. Thank you!
You really have to remember that if 'God' exists, and is 'good' - as we are led to believe by all forms of Christians - then 'He' will judge you based not on your doubts, but on the way you have lived your life.
If you have objectively treated other people as you would wish to be treated OR (to the best of your knowledge) if you have looked at each difficult scenario that you have come up against in life and taken the course which you've judged to be that which does the least harm, then the 'God' as defined by Christianity should judge you benevolently*.
As long as you do your best to do no harm, whether 'He' exists or not is a moot point.
*I set aside the debate regarding whether the Christian 'God' is in fact a 'good' and/or 'forgiving' presence. Much of the Bible would suggest that 'Satan' is in fact less destructive than the Christian 'God'.
As in, I agree :-)
I have thought of that as well. :) The whole "If God is good/If God is unjust" quote, being the same concept, has helped. Thank you! :)
I've used these lines on Christians worried about my "eternal soul", and it usually quells the urgency in their tones. Doesn't make them shut up forever, but at least they climb out of my ass for a while.