A Pastor who scares people…REALLY???

thinking deeply

By Kenneth Justice

~ A while back at coffee I met with an atheist who had grown up the son of a Preacher. His father was a hardcore fundamentalist preacher who believed very emphatically that eternal life came down to the Baptist “Jesus way or the hell-way”,

Kenneth, one of the first times that I really began to question what my father was teaching us is the time that one of our parishioners was over the house and my dad grabbed him by the collar and threw him against the wall” he said.

Apparently, the parishioner was having an affair and the Preacher/father decided the best way to get the guy to quit cheating on his wife was to intimidate him by throwing him up against the wall and yelling at him that he was headed to hell unless he stopped screwing around, “Kenneth it was crazy, my dad shoved him so hard against the wall, face first, that the guy’s nose started bleeding” he said

Whether or not the parishioner stopped cheating on his wife I have no clue….we never got around to discussing that aspect of the conversation; instead much of what we discussed was the atheist’s bad experiences of growing up with an intensely devoted fundamentalist preacher as a father. Although his dad didn’t ex-communicate the son for switching to atheism; his family and ex-church has made it pretty clear to him that he is headed for an eternity of hellfire and damnation because he has rejected god.

I’ve never really understood this aspect of the religion; the whole idea that Christian’s believe their main responsibility in life is to convince people they are going to hell for rejecting Christianity. The bible talks about a lot of subjects; yet for some reason ALOT of Christian’s have decided that the topic of hell is the most important subject to ramrod down the throats of non-Christians. Christians in my community stand outside on the street corner in the summer with signs telling passerby’s that they are headed to hell.

This past month I’ve received a few emails from Christian’s demanding that I tell people they are going to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus……to which I respond; REALLY??? I had a couple Christian’s write to me saying that “Kenneth, you don’t really love people if you don’t tell them they are going to hell?”……again;  REALLY???

If we are going to be honest with ourselves; by sheer volume alone Jesus talked about the subject of money more than he talked about death. In fact, 1/3 of all the parables Jesus told revolved around money and 1 in every 7 verses in the book of Luke are about money…….

However, walk into any Church in the Western World and you will find married couples and singles who are struggling financially and yet the average church doesn’t do a damn thing about it.

Of course, usually when churches discuss the topic of money it has to do with giving money to the church. Isn’t that a bit convenient for the Church?

It is really disheartening; who among us is not aware of the devastating effects of our economic situation all across the Western World? Who among us hasn’t seen the daily headlines since 2008;

—) “increases in poverty”

—) “more home foreclosures”

—) “price of gasoline goes up”

A day doesn’t go by that the Media doesn’t report some new financial heartbreak that affects millions of families and single adults all across the Western World. And yet so much of the Christian church marches along to their own beat and ignores the subject most discussed by Jesus; money, helping the poor….and that pure religion is about helping the helpless, the widows, and those on the bottom rungs of society….and instead too many churches are more concerned with telling people they are going to hell then dealing with poverty, homelessness, single mothers, single fathers…and all the other people in real need.

—) Where are the stories of Christians who are pooling their money together to help pay off the debts of their parishioners?

—) Where are the stories of churches who are helping to save people’s houses from being foreclosed on?

—) Where are the stores of Christians who have made helping single mothers a primary focus of their mission?

—) Where are the stories of Christian doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals who are giving away free services to those who can’t afford them?

Instead, too many Christian’s would rather make hell fire and damnation their primary focus when they interact with others.

As a Christian I can’t emphasize enough how much this bothers me about my fellow Christians. It drives me nuts. I have had many good friends throughout my life who are atheists, agnostics, as well as friends who believe in different religions……and it seems entirely absurd for me to attack their beliefs by telling them they are headed to hell because they don’t believe what I do.

The simple fact of the matter is that people gravitate toward authenticity; you don’t have to coerce people to the truth.

—) Although Galileo’s discoveries were initially rejected….eventually, because his findings were authentic; the masses ended up believing

—) Initially, most people rejected and ridiculed Louis Pasteur for his germ theory; but now-a-days we all wash our hands without even thinking

Authenticity wins in the end. Truth (whatever the truth may be) wins in the end. Coercing people, ramrodding your religious beliefs down people’s throats, throwing people up against the wall……those tactics are simply sad and disheartening.

You can hate me if you want, but I am on this journey of life with all the others beside me; whether they are atheists or Hindus or whatever…….and I’d rather spend my time having positive dialogue, helping the poor, the homeless, the single mothers, and everyone else in between….then throwing people up against the wall and telling them they are headed to hell.

I’d also of course like to enjoy a couple cups of coffee along the way.

Kenneth

(P.S. If you haven’t heard I’m going on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses in 2014 check out my link for the news and stay tuned for dates and locations <link> )

 



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153 replies

  1. Beats me how any true Christian, Muslin, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist (or anyone else of any religion, colour, culture or whatever) thinks they’re better than anyone else.
    I believe in the basic good nature of all (well, unless they’re mentally or medically deficient I suppose).
    So, until you show me otherwise…..in thought or deed…..we are equal.

  2. Some churches are like that. But some churches are loving. I have been visiting a few different denomination churches. Each denominations have stereotyped each other due to different doctrines. I’m tired of the putting down. Sometimes, it is how the Word of God lives in us and we live it out

    >

    • Yoshiko, your so right; one of the problems that exists is that instead of denominations and church’s working together, and working towards peace and unity…..instead they stereotype each other and bash each other……there is a world of people out there who need to be loved and who have real needs that need to be met and the church needs to get its act together and begin truly reaching out to these people

    • There’s a perfect verse for this, Ephesians 4:3, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Now that’s aspirational. I think the tendency to judge and censure is rooted in a Sales & Territorial mentality. They see other churches as the competition. What??? But why they bash the potential customer is beyond me. Not only stupid but just plain mean.

    • Exactly….and like I said in a previous comment; the overwhelming majority of people who do choose to become Christian don’t do so because they were told they were going to hell; in fact I wonder how many people the hell fire and brimstone tactic actually works on, I bet it’s a very low number if any

    • Yes, the churches need to work together

  3. What a cruel reality you describe, Kenneth! I gree again with you, we should accept people as they are than to force them to believe in what they don’t believe.
    I’ll give an example…perhaps a bit out of topic but somehow is related. For me being a Catholic among all my Orthodox friends was something else. They never push me to go and attend thier cult or viceversa, we did it because it was our pleasure to celebrate Easter together on different dates in each Church.

  4. Kenneth, this is my authentic reaction: Who could hate you? Really.

  5. A lot of truth here, and also some over-generalizations. We should share the truth in love, not with scare tactics. We should be prepared to give a reason for our hope. It seems to me that the bigger problem is not the few who share their faith badly but the many who don’t share the truth they believe at all. I’m challenged by what you said to think about how our church could do more to help its members (I’m a lay person, not a pastor).

    • bwdell,

      well I’m a master of over-generalizations 😉 seriously though, I’ve learned that one of the best way’s to communicate a truth is to overgeneralize or overstate a topic…..

      also, consider this for a moment; how many people do you know who became a Christian through someone telling them they were headed to hell?

      now think about this; how many people do you know who became a Christian because of the love and authenticity that Christians demonstrated to them?

      The simple fact of the matter is that statistically VERY few of the people who ever went up to a Billy Graham alter call ended up attending church regularly whatsoever. Numerous books have talked about this……getting people all worked up emotionally should not be what drives us in our witness of the faith;

      What matters is demonstrating authentic love towards others.

    • I consider God’s, and more specifically, his Son Jesus Christ’s warning of an eternity apart from all truth, in everlasting fire, perhaps the most loving pertinent truth that a loving, all-powerful, sovereign, Holy God could reveal to a lost, condemned, blind, humanity, by their imputed fallen nature at war with Him.

    • Actually, the bible has stories of Jesus confronting the religious hypocrites…but where are the examples of Jesus telling non-believers they are headed to hell and making that a major platform of his ministry? Sorry….but I think your missing a substantive portion of who Christ really was and how he lived.

    • Who Christ was – The lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the world (to save souls from Hell)

      How Christ lived (and died) – In perfect obedience to his heavenly Father, even the death of the cross were he purchased salvation for his own, saving them from satysfying a Holy God’s completely justified wrath (Hell).

      Christ is the living Word of God. He is God’s Word alive in the flesh, sacrificed for sinner’s to save them from Hell. Christ is God, a platform for his ministry?He accomplished this after finishing the Father’s will perfectly in his life and in death on the cross. John spends a lot time identifying Jesus Christ with the God of the old testament. One God, in three distinct persons. The doctrine of Hell is embedded in the Gospel, just as the Gospel is embedded in the Word of God. I admit that nothing Hell (full separation from God) to be saved from ,and no utter helplessness
      of mankind are difficult to believe, in fact impossible, without repentance and complete dependence on the righteousness of the Son of God of man. Here are some verses:

      The Rich Man and Lazarus
      19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 ” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
      Matthew 5:22 NIV
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
      Matthew 5:29 NIV
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
      Matthew 5:30 NIV
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
      Matthew 10:28 NIV
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
      Matthew 18:9 NIV
And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
      Matthew 23:15 NIV
”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Matthew 23:33 NIV
”You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
      Mark 9:43 NIV
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
      Mark 9:45 NIV
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
      Mark 9:47 NIV
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
      Luke 12:5 NIV
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
      Luke 16:23 NIV
In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
      James 3:6 NIV
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
      2 Peter 2:4 NIV
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;


    • “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

      This is from one of the holy books of my faith, and although the Christian world may not accept it as such, I think it is very consistent with New Testament writings of Jesus’s words, such as Matthew 18:1-4: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

      I am familiar with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. I am familiar with the passages of “if thy right eye offend thee” (pardon, I am more familiar with the King James, than the NIV) but I understand that to be more about making sacrifices to be free of sin, especially those relating to addiction. It is better that I should break off certain friendships, habits– to be free again, rather than in chains. Nowhere in my recovery work was I taught, “You need to save your errant friends from hell!” No, I was taught to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. I give the glory to God as I believe I should– I would hope that my progress might be like the candlestick that Jesus spoke of, but I think it wrong to impose it forcefully on others, to guilt and shame them towards repentance. Preaching repentance, for me, is to speak of the mercy of my Master… and leave it to others whether they wish to follow Him or not. Even then, I truly believe that people will find their own happiness, and most of the matter is for they themselves to decide, not me.

    • Although Christ offers his joy to those that follow him, this “happiness” you mention seems to take a tertiary role in his Word. We offer God our mind. He renews our mind when we repent and sacrifice our very self. This is what he demands. Serving a god through our feelings may make us feel good,
      but Christ did not come to earth to feel good. He came to earth to do good. More specifically “good” as defined as God’s good or God’s will. When called good by the rich young ruler, Christ himself tells him that there is none good but God. Many believed (assented to) the fact of the miraculous good he did, but did not believe him. To them he was a good man doing good things. A good example to follow in how we relate to our fellow man, but many stopped short of the totality of realization of what work he was sent to perform, because that work, shows forth all mankind’s deeds to be worthless and meaningless out from under His loving salvation of grace, offered freely to whoever calls upon His name, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The apostles, for the most part, were martyred. Christ is called a man of sorrows, smitten, and afflicted, by punishment, guilt, and shame, fully underserved. Christ did not offer some feel good philosophy. He offered his Life. He became sin. He bore our punishment and shame. These are legal facts clearly stated in his word. Any arm twisting one might experience amidst their hearing is the Spirit of God attesting to His own word in our deadened souls. He that will Judge all things by the Law of God, Creator of the universe, who became a man in order to change the status of those souls found legally guilty under his Law. Many give glory to God in their own way. This is expressly why Christ says that he, in fact, is the only way to God. His righteousness, His way, His truth, His Life. Accepting him or rejecting him means rejecting or rejecting all he said, all his teachings. Many look for quick, feel good answers to their temporary “hells” here on earth. Christ offers primarily, ultimate eternal everlasting answers to actual Hell, that both He and the apostles speak clearly of in the new testament. Accepting him as anything less than the Messiah is a misunderstanding of grievous degree. The best way that I know to love my fellow man is to share this truth. Jesus Christ has saved my soul from Hell! Thank God for Jesus Christ. Although not mentioned specifically Christ does seem to allude to some eternal unhappiness in Matthew 11, following:

      20 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

    • You’re still missing my point.

      Have you even read MY blog? My story? It’s not full of feel good fuzziness. I think you presume much if you are suggesting that my words are such. I also hope you do not presume what my relationship is with my Master.

      I have been reading your blog– I see many poems, much criticism of society– but I can’t find what YOUR story is, your journey, YOUR personal walk with Christ. I see words towards others, but not words regarding YOU, yourself.

      Until you are willing to converse WITH me, instead of preaching AT me– you and I will remain precisely where we are at. If I have mislead you, I’m sorry, but understand, it is my experience that contention is no way to salvation. To be more blunt, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” (3 Nephi 11:29) Yes, I understand these too to be the words of Christ, to His people in the Americas.
      Find these words to be false and heretical if you must, but if you persist in the tone you have taken, then I will ignore you. Believe me to be deluded, believe me to be misguided, believe me even to be damned. But I will not speak to you more if this is what you choose.

    • Jak, I think that all he knows how to do is talk at people…I haven’t seen evidence of back and forth dialogue at all (not trying to be rude cucumber either…merely calling a spade a spade)

    • I’m always for trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, so… well, I do what I can.

  6. excellent post Kenneth! I agree with the earlier posts, we are all equal, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. We should all help each other when we can, but NOT forced to, morality and ethics don’t need to come from any religion, we should already know all we need to about that from just looking within ourselves. I wish more churches would use their power and money to help the people who need it then build more fancy churches.

  7. I don’t fight for Christians. I don’t fight the good fight. I don’t fight for Christ. I am not a fan of fighting. But love … acceptance … inclusivity … a little of bit of Jesus in your life … a little bit of mystery … a little bit of listening … a little bit of laughter … now that’s hugging material. Get that world tour going!! Sounds like you need it bad!!

    • Lol well my world tour kicks off in 10 days when I leave to costa rica….after that it’s gonna be a whirlwind year; can I really do 100 coffee houses, 25 U.S. states, Canada, the UK and perhaps other parts of Europe all in one year; I think so but it’s gonna be crazy 🙂

    • The “Flying Monk” or the “Knackered Monk” maybe even the “Where are we this week Monk”!! It’s popstar stuff! It’s UN envoy stuff. It’s so crazy it’s fabulous!! You are nuts. And I am so glad you are you! 🙂

    • You’re making me think of that old tv show “the flying nun” and it’s leaving a bad picture in my mind lol

    • Just googled it. Very glad that one never flew across the Atlantic.

  8. I often wonder what churches make of me. I am not a Christian, I view Jesus as a good man who was filled with spiritual knowledge, as many other men and women have been through out history. These days as an Pagan, I find it frustrating that despite over a decade of trying to encourage others to do interfaith work – ie work with the Christian community, churches, Muslims, without fail you can guarantee for the youngest its always a preacher that leaves the lasting impression all Christians are quite so hostile. It worries me. I think you’ve heard this story before but it kind of shows how much behind the times the traditional church is.
    A pair of Mormons came to my door. Years ago, the realization from my pentagram I am pagan would have sent them scurrying in fear and terror bluntly. Rather than try and engage them I said look guys I am a pagan, a witch, no thanks. The older guy in his 60s turned around and engaged me with the words ‘but pagan merely means follower of the earth.’ he wasn’t 100% but I thought good effort. I still didn’t convert.
    I view Jesus, Gandhi, Theresa and many others as spiritual. But, me telling that story to others like me and others in other faiths, has an affect. In my faith – we have a lot of sects much like there are many sects of Christianity, universally while we find 90% of ordinary people calm down, once they realize we have no problem with who they worship and no interest in converting them. 10% of the hard core hell and brimstone type, usually preachers, end up becoming the lasting memory. I specialize in studying other religions, if you like it’s my particular calling to try find a middle way.
    I try to encourage others of my faith to accept that Jesus is a good guy, just his message has been lost. In fact most Pagans view Jesus as a top guy. We like him. Unless they are very young, most pagans admire what Jesus stood for as a person. How brave he was. That he had a bit of a raw deal. We can relate to him on those terms. What we struggle with is how this man of peace is shown to us via his church, as the man who wanted to send people to hell. I have seen and taken on preachers who have been screaming at christian children they are bound for hell. Not as a witch. Not as a pagan. Not because Jesus to me is god. But I took on that preacher with Jesus’s own words about children. Forgiveness. It strikes me as kind of sad, that a man who in effect invented a whole new religion, for his followers to talk words of peace, to take the selectiveness out of judaism, so anyone could follow jehovah, who spoke often about turning the other cheek, great wisdom and accepted prostitutes, all kinds. Should end up becoming the bogey man in effect, as Preachers scream about hell and fire.
    I find it sad he chose to die to give those who came after a new way to be. He died very horribly. Yet his words today, are lost in this ‘You will go to hell message’. Jesus did not yell that unless you followed him, you were going to hell. Those who took up his staff on his death did. To me, if Christians are following the son of God, as Jesus is viewed, why not just stick to his bit. Bit about peace, love and forgiveness. Not the increasingly hostile and selective letters? Just a query. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. But, outside Christian communities, biggest complaint and reason given why people reject dealings with Christians is the condemnation, intolerance and yet often rich preachers drive past homeless Christians without even chucking in chain. As a pagan I am taught any man could be unlucky and to show acceptance. That it is selfish for me to have millions and yet not hand food if I happen to pass a homeless guy. It’s why pagans are often not very rich, we are taught while money can be fun, we have a duty to all in our communities not just those of our faith. That duty is to be good human beings. We may not turn the other cheek, its not in us. However, we would not willfully become rich off the back of our poor and cause suffering either. For us our big problem with Christianity, is this ignoring of those who are suffering, because the whole reason we like Jesus, is he was a kind person.
    Just some thoughts.

    • Great thoughts and much appreciated 🙂 too many churches have robbed Jesus of his humanity and have made him out to be like a Marvel Superhero…..while Christian belief is that Jesus was both god and man, i think that the tendency Christians have is to only focus on him being god and it makes him entirely un-relatable to the average person….as you pointed out; what makes Jesus relatable is that he suffered, he was real, he was human….and we can identify with the pain and agony he went through……..

      Too many Christians have forgotten the life that Jesus led and have created their own narrative which doesn’t look at all like what I read in the scriptures….

      Thanks for the great thoughts 🙂

    • Bee,

      I am LDS… Mormon. I have friends and family that are pagan or espouse pagan/Wiccan beliefs. Why do you think any of us should have reason to run from you? If they did, they will learn. If they haven’t, send ’em over my way. They need to learn.

      We aren’t trying to be pushy in our proselyzing efforts. If any have, they are doing it wrong. It’s an offering of goodwill and is not meant to be oppressive or demanding in any way. Our leaders have been teaching us a lot more recently as such, in fact, it was a topic of one of our meetings just last Sunday. Best I can understand, we shouldn’t be offended if others turn us down. It’s all built on friendships, belonging– seriously, even “South Park” creator Trey Parker gets that, and he’s made a ton of jokes about us.

    • up till recently every time I tried to chat to Mormons, I was very curious about the angels in your bible, bluntly the second i said my faith or they saw I was a witch from my necklace, they assumed satani I am guessing from the reaction, I almost expect ignorance from a lot of folks, we do have a lot of problems with folks wearing funny clothes saying they’re witches on tv and horror films do present us as these devil worshippers. Usually before I had chance to even say ‘easy I don’t believe in there being a devil, its more yin and yang with us as you obiviusly know. He pleased me tremulously, as there have been rumblings for a while that the Mormons were less hostile. I hope to see more, because I think it’s good for my little girl to see all the faiths that are out there. I am happy for her when she’s 18 to go on and follow or believe in who she wants. My best friend is a christian lay preacher these days and slowly her church that she attends has come to realise she has happened upon a very old fashioned i guess or traditional dyed in the wool old path pagan witch.
      I find it quite funny she asks me about stuff, she then takes back what the old path view is. They send via her, questions about what the ‘bad people are’. I also spend a lot of time answering questions on other faiths weirdly. So it’s nice to be able to say, well actually i have met one of those Mormon preachers at door your all on about and he was alright to me. It’s nice to be able to be able to say, I have helped improved her church’s attitude about catholics. I may tease and take the mick out of some catholic ideas, but all my life I have had catholic friends who were just people good or bad. Same as I have distant roma kin, with romas verision of catholism.
      It’s a weird one. Most old paths like myself are what you’d call ‘solitaries’ we stay out of the covens which in a way are a bit like churches. They all meet up say once a week to chat, pray, circle etc. They tend to be quite sheltered. They can be as anti outsiders as some churches. Because a brick through the window cause folks assume you are one of those satani folks who worship satan etc, doesnt half quell your instinct to talk about stuff. I know ‘witches’ of many faiths.
      Mormons though I hate to say it, but American Mormons use to arrive on mass and start knocking doors much like the Jehovahs do. Same black as standard in suits. Which is OK. Except in Wales a guy shows at your door in a suit, and there are two of them, you automatically are thinking ‘cop’.
      Last few years things really have improved. Before folks use to watch through windows as folks arrived on mass all wearing suits, much like CID turn up to investigate something bad happening.
      We don’t tend to have a huge population of Mormons here, or ones that go into the community so run into regularly, so you get to know the person. Does tend to be unfortunately, where ever I live people use to wait to see what happened at ‘the witch’s house’ because for sheer comedy value, watching grown men run in fear of a rather baffled skinny girl at the time, must of been hilarous.
      I hope we do see some Mormon churches around here sometime soon. On the whole Wales only real experience of religion is Fire and Brimstone Chapels or the Salvation army. Ask them and they will say they are christian. Ask them have they ever read the bible, answer is no.
      They react on the whole with great fear of Muslims, rightly or wrongly, is what happens. We have street preachers in the cities who yell at us to repent or we go to hell.
      English High Church if you go along, very quietly in disapproving tones quietly assassinates any and all other faiths in posh voices.
      Catholic church oddly, providing you put your necklace away, tends to be quite friendly. Quite happy you to go in and sit down, pray whatever. Priests tend to be fairly friendly to outsiders. Mean I am sure they get hostile eventually, but on the whole, my only real bad experience if you like of Catholic preachers in person is they want me to apologize for being a single mother and be repentant of that. I know of people and people who have suffered at all churches preachers hands, can’t say I have ever met a person whose come to me to talk about being abused at Mormon churches hands.

      My original point, was that if Mormons who until recently to us, looked like cops descending on us, with strange unfamilar accents, terrifying people, not deliberately but clearly not taking into account, welsh history, men at door in suit not good news, can have learned to adapt and clearly brushed up on all sorts of faiths they are going to come across, then why hasn’t the church caught up.
      Why is it that I have seen preachers themselves shocked I havent burst into flames on entering a church.
      I love my friends, i spend a lot of time with new friends, often of strong faiths, quietly making them realise, no I dont want saving in my eyes, but I got no problem riding with you or hearing what you believe. Hope that clears it up. Sorry Kenneth, for tying up your comments there.

    • “Sorry Kenneth, for tying up your comments there”

      don’t worry about…I enjoyed reading what you’ve written 🙂

    • I have friends and family in the British Isles, but I still learned a lot from your comments– well, I still have a lot to learn, actually. I appreciated getting a new perspective. I think you’ve illustrated really well what fellowship should be, getting to know your neighbors and learning about where they’re coming from, and just appreciating them for themselves.

      I also think you’ve made an important point that our children and other family members may decide to take a slightly different direction that we did. One of our General Authorities told us in a recent conference that we need to be supportive of that. Besides, one of our articles of faith states that we believe that everyone should worship “according to the dictates of [their] own conscience… let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

      I’m fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest region of the States, where people are pretty laid back. I’m in the southeast corner of Washington, which is more conservative and traditional compared to better known Seattle, but, still, people are still pretty relaxed and accepting. So many people here of varying faiths promote interfaith discourse regularly and are strongly opposed to persecution or oppression of people’s beliefs. We in particular have received a lot of support from people against those few that do decide to protest, picket, and otherwise harass us.

  9. I think a lot of Christianity has the idea that if a person just prayed hard enough, God would provide them all the money they need in life. People who are struggling simply aren’t reading the Bible enough.

    Personally, I tend to lean toward the Christian stories, but I like other religions too. I like learning about the human side of other religions. Who was Muhammad as a person? Who was Buddha as a person? Who was Jesus as a person. I think there are lessons to learn from all fronts. What I always find most interesting is the similarities. If you were to look at all world religions and ask what is most common, peace and giving to others is a theme.

    I don’t really think of other beliefs as separate from my own. I think we all feel a connection to something greater. Religion is our way of defining that. Even if people define it in different ways, use different names and follow different traditions, I still think they are addressing the same Divinity I am. I would argue that even most atheists feel a connection to something, be it humanity, science or something else.

    and if I am wrong. If there is only one true religion and everyone else is holding on to ideas of false gods, I don’t think a merciful God would fault them. If there is heaven and hell exactly the way most Christians believe, I think the kindhearted atheist and the kindhearted polytheist would end up in heaven and the hateful Christian who went judged and tormented all who believed differently would find a worser fate.

    • “Personally, I tend to lean toward the Christian stories, but I like other religions too”

      and it should be mentioned that Christians like Paul in the bible had no problem with sharing and using the wisdom of the culture around him which involved that of other religions……

      its only the really stubborn who want to live in a ‘Christian bubble’ where nothing else matters in life except one’s own particular branch of religious Christianity…..its really sad but a lot of people out there live in this bubble and never realize that there is a bigger world out there…..

    • by bubble, do you mean cult?

      Sorry, that was mean. I’ve had a few friends who have succeeded in living in that bubble and they act like they are part of a cult. It’s disturbing.

    • actually…in many instances I would say yes, a bubble = cult…….a lot of Christians (and people in other religions) practice their faith and attend churches that are very cultish…..

    • Hi Kenneth,

      Agreed. Contrary to fundamantalist and evangelical Christian dogma, Paul was actually quite clear that non-Christians are saved if they live good lives according to their own conscience. Check this out:

      “God will repay everyone according to what they have done. To those who by patiently doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

      “All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.” (Romans 2:6–16)

  10. Truth for the Christians. Each one of you should visit Egypt and see the truth. How is it the the stories in the bible are on the walls of

  11. One thing I remember about Christ’s teachings is that he never preached to a captive audience. People always came to him, sought him out. That’s why I have a problem with what I refer to as “Drive By Witnessing.”™ True witnessing is a dialogue and a time commitment. Some folks don’t want that, so they’ll get in your face and claim, “Jesus or Hell!” This isn’t right or fair. But it’s the quick way out because, of course, people aren’t going to respond well. This way, the person can shrug and claim, “I tried, God” without genuine effort. But it does, indeed, leave behind spiritual casualties because the person they yelled at is much less likely to engage on conversation later on and will carry that moment for years to come.
    I am Christian, but a lot of the styles of witnessing bother me. These are my conclusions after pondering the subject long and hard. 🙂

    • “But it does, indeed, leave behind spiritual casualties because the person they yelled at is much less likely to engage on conversation later on and will carry that moment for years to come.”

      what I’ve been seeing is that the number of causalities is on the increase.

      perhaps 150 years ago ‘drive by witnessing’ was acceptable and perhaps people weren’t even bothered by it…..but in our day and age it wreaks of inauthenticity and is entirely void of love. In our day-and-age when so many people out there have very real needs (material needs) I’m reminded of the verse that says what father out there would give his son a rock when he is hungry…..

      thanks for the great comments….btw: are you trademarking that term for a book you’re writing? 😉

    • Maybe one day. I just found it so useful and feel it really sums up what I saw/experienced/felt. Dunno if I’d ever feel brave enough to write a spirituality book. C.S. Lewis beat me to all of my points. 🙂

    • C.S. Lewis beat us ALL to our points….I’ve read every book he wrote (actually I own em all) and any time I ever think about writing a book about Christianity I look at his books on my shelf and simply sigh…I’d rather someone read what he wrote than me

    • Pretty much. My daughter’s name is Lucy in honor of his character.

    • now that is cool! I would say that I have re-read Lewis’s books more than any other author….I’ve read mere Christianity at least 30 or 40 times and have most of it memorized…..I am clearly disturbed 😉

    • Well done, you! My first splash with him was The Screwtape letters.

    • for me it was Narnia…but screwtape letters I read the first time when I was 11 I think so it was pretty much at the beginning as well.

    • Any time I think of free will and the arguments for it (as opposed to fatalism), I have to think of C.S. Lewis.

  12. Reminds me of this in Luke 18:

    9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
    10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
    11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
    12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
    13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
    14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  13. Fear is a tool used by people who are insecure and lacking power. When I hear people trying so hard to shove their beliefs down other’s throats it always makes me think they don’t really believe what they are saying. Knowledge is power and truth is security. People who know the truth, secure in their knowledge, will share what they know if asked but that urge to force other people to believe them just isn’t there. Perhaps it is as simple as fear mongering Christians know that there is much more to being a true Christian, but it requires a bit of hard work, work they have no interest in doing. Why help another when you can point your finger and proclaim your superiority over them, shaming them into submission. Let’s ignore any part of the message that tells you to spend your time helping others instead of judging them. It is much easier and beneficial for them to try to convince others that the message is one of convienence (to them) instead of one of compassion (for others). It is just a shame that all those hypocrites give their religion a bad name. This is why we can’t have nice things, there’s always someone who has to go and ruin it for everyone else.

    • Dobetteralways,

      I think your totally in to something without comment because it’s something I’ve been thinking for year’s ; fear mongering Christians, or fundamentalists in general; perhaps they know in their heart that they aren’t being “true” Christians because they are too damn self centered and don’t want to take the time to love and serve others and thus they instead go the other way and become totally annoying hell fire and brimstone annoyances

  14. Amen.
    To often we say that another religion has extremists and such. they fight the unbelievers or non-believers or in that order. Like belief or die.
    Some of the extremists as they are as well Christians do the same.. Belief or die in hell.
    it is said by me in a short confronting way but in every religion there are those extreme cases. And they just donot want deviate from their visions and views.

    Now correct me if i am wrong. I believe there was a story in the Bible where in a square of a temple priest were making money selling some kind of paper to go to heaven.Was it not Jesus on a rampage their throwing over the tables and gold.
    Is that not what in my opinion is happening at church. revert to us give me your money and you go to heaven. I know it is very blunt. and certainly does not want to kick against shins.

    I walk this world with my neighbour and I shall love him/her. For he/she is my neighbour..

    • Your totally right about the bible story…and Jesus spent the majority of his time confronting the crazy religious zealots than he did with the non-believers 🙂

  15. What people tend to forget is that the Bible was written to God’s people, to believers. In His Word He explains many things to us, including what will happen to those who don’t believe. However, He’s not telling us that so we will use it to condemn them, but so that we will get off our duffs and do something about it. If Christians would only learn how to handle Scripture in the right way, things would be so much better.

  16. As an atheist, I’ve been warned many times by Christians that I’m going straight to hell. No, I tell them. I’m going to Oz. I want to meet the great wizard. Or maybe to the Middle Earth so I can meet the great wizard. You know, since THEIR great wizard doesn’t want me to go to heaven.

  17. We may all be surprised when we get to wherever it is we are going…

    • very true lisa…….although r u saying that I might be surprised when if find out I’m going to hell? 😉

    • Oh lord Kenneth. I’m not saying that at all. That being said, hell probably won’t be surprised if and when I fall in. 😉

      I do believe the one universal word that we should all practice more instead of debating heaven, hell and damnation is ….love. Which does seen to be the basis of any and all religions.
      And isn’t it odd of all religions, that is the one thing not argued?

    • no not odd…..people are simply so stubborn unfortunately

  18. Isn’t the problem that people take Jesus’ words “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through ME” literally and interpret this message as “follow me or go to Hell”? And then, because they don’t want their loved ones to go to hell, they hit them over the head with religious fervour and turn them right off Christ. Screwtape knew his humans!

    • catterel,

      yes. too many Christians are very ‘choosy’ when it comes to which verses they read literally and which verses they don’t….seems like they simply gloss through the bible and pick the ones they like and ignore the ones they don’t

  19. It is all about relationship..which you seem well on your way to doing…

  20. Oh boy you opened a big ole can of worms..tee-hee..My thoughts are , Unless you created the earth, it’s inhabitants and the languages, you my dear have zero authority to tell me about a hell. I was raised and raised my children to beleive in the goodness, purity and amazement of life..I dared them to live any other way or to take up on some one thought process, horse and pony show..There is beauty in all religons (yes I was born a Christian) and thankfully they see the same as I do..As for religious organizations of the world that demand a “tithe” or create their specific mold on what makes a good person, well, this old girl just respectfully nods and closes her ears..
    lynne

  21. AMAZING POST which will be shared!!!

    Ps. If I got out more, I would find a place in Philly for you.LOL

    In the meantime I’ll be content with my Keurig and tasty creamers

  22. Somewhere the good news of salvation turned into the scary news of hell. I think we use scare tactics because we don’t believe our God is good enough to attract people. I came out of that kind of background myself and it made me an atheist, but God was so good to me I came back in spite of it all.
    We do have a couple up here, both doctors, retired now, who gave away their services free to those in need. They did a clinic on their own that visited the Amish communities in the area, and we have received some of their charity when we were in great need. They are Jewish people who joined the local Episcopal Church, not at all because they were afraid of hell or even believed in it, but because they read in the Bible how good a man Jesus was.

    • I wish that more stories like the one you’ve shared of e Jewish couple were made national headlines….unfortunately I think they are an exception to the rule

  23. So dang true.

    Come on by, and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

  24. I’ve now evolved into a Buddhist but I did convert to Mormonism after being a Presbyterian for 20 years.
    The thing that attracted me the most was that Mormon’s don’t send anyone to hell.
    Liars and adulators go to a weedy heaven, less than active Mormons and other good people go to what I call “Bunny” heaven, a place that’s green and happy and then those who prove themselves worthy live in a celestial heaven and go on to be world creators.
    I found the church was too tight of a box for me but I still appreciate the theology.
    God loves all of us.
    The whole story of the fight in heaven was the Devil was going to bring all back to God by force. And Jesus said he’d do it by love unfeigned. Said he’d loose a some but those that did follow him would be genuine.
    Makes me CRAZY people are scaring people into the love of God.
    Perfect love casteth out all fear!
    For more love find me at
    ktskindwords.com

    • I am a born Mormon, so to speak, and I remain with the LDS Church, but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Buddhism. A friend I call my “Sifu-of-sorts” is a Zen Animist, and he got me started on my Taoist studies…

    • As far as I can tell you can be a Buddhist and LDS too! I’m sure you know of the CTR ring. In Buddhism it’s about choosing the right path too.
      Right view
      Right intention
      Right speech
      Right action
      Right livelihood
      Right effort
      Right mindfulness
      Right concentration
      And that’s straight from Wikipedia.
      Not sure if you read my blog but it kind of explains my philosophy.

    • Yep. I’ve seen absolutely no conflict between my LDS faith and my studies of the Eastern paths. There *are* religious aspects of Taoism, so I am not sure how to reconcile figures such as the Jade Emperor, the Drunken Immortals, etc. but I am not especially worried about that.

      There are quite a few things that I think coincide– ancestral spirits and our understanding of the spirit world, karma and the law of justification, “opposition in all things” as Lehi said, and yin-yang, etc.

      I’ll be right over and read more of what you have to say 🙂

    • Ktskindwords,

      Thanks for the kind comments 🙂 i appreciate your perspective a ton

  25. I am a Jewish convert to
    Catholicism.

    I had joined the Franciscans
    and intended to live as one.

    As part of my education I had to
    meditate on the cross for an hour
    each evening for two weeks.

    At the end of the two weeks
    I reported that the cross
    represented the duality
    of human nature…

    The best of human nature had
    been executed by the worst.

    Christ is crucified everyday on
    every street in every city of the
    United States as a result
    of this rigged economic system
    imposed
    on us by people who call
    themselves Christian but
    who cling to the angry God of
    the
    old Testament.

    It is easier for a Camel to go
    through the eye of a needle
    than for a rich man to enter
    the Kingdom of Heaven
    is a statement regarding
    perception.

    It is a matter of “seeing”.

    To see without denial and judgement
    that one is responsible to and for
    others is difficult because we can be
    very selfish…as a species.

    The idea that God shows his love
    by making you rich is a Jewish
    idea and is at the heart of most
    feudal cultures.

    If you hold a needle
    to your eye and look at a camel
    you will see him…

    through the eye…

    • Great perspective….duality is a great term, I’ve been reading a book recently that is similar in theme in the context of the bible and duality, there is definitely a lot to be explored I that vein 🙂

    • I see it all around me…

      a creature that fabricates its
      own environment, imagines
      art, explores infinity, and
      often behaves like a savage
      when frightened.

      I think it’s something we all share…

  26. “The simple fact of the matter is that people gravitate toward authenticity; you don’t have to coerce people to the truth.”

    Well spoken, I couldn’t have said it better myself as a pastor. 😉

  27. fear is the great motivator in all the militant religions, and yes, christianity is one of them.

    People come to Jesus the saviour in order to escape hell . . .

    people come to Jesus the teacher in order to learn . . .

    What Jesus taught is universally pretty much the same as what others taught before him.

    Hell is bullshit fomented by a good PR program. . . Who needs hell when we humans seem to be well good enough to create our own . . .

  28. And My favorite is Romans 2:4, the Gospel in one verse, says “God’s kindness leads us to repentance”. (NIV)

  29. Reblogged this on ArtyKat's View of Her World and commented:
    And My favorite is Romans 2:4, the Gospel in one verse, says “God’s kindness leads us to repentance”. (NIV)

  30. My favorite is Romans 2:4, the Gospel in one verse, says “God’s kindness leads us to repentance”. (NIV)

  31. I agree, the church often does little to meet people’s physical needs, while over-stressing spiritual needs. The majority of congregants that go to churches don’t tithe though, which often stretches church budgets pretty thin. I get that with the state of our economy and our unemployment rate, and with students being swamped with debt, in many cases it’s understandable. Many mega-churches waste money on stupid things though.

    So many Christians cherry-pick scripture for feel-good, affirming verses, and will focus on things that condemn others, while ignoring passages that call Christians themselves to continued repentance, like James 2:14-20 –

    “14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?”

    By the way, you might benefit from considering the reasoning of the famous out-spoken Atheist Penn Jillette on the subject of the importance of telling people they are going to hell apart from faith in Christ, from the video clip below:

    Also, you might also reconsider Jesus’ very clear direction to his followers to do what you seem to not be wanting to do at the end of Matthew 28. Whether or not you take issue with how other Christians cherry-pick passages, as a Christian yourself who takes issues with hypocrisy, be careful not to cherry-pick passages yourself that only affirm your personal beliefs, because many Atheists like Jillette who have studied the Bible much more than the average Christian, think that a professing Christian who shies away from being honest and direct with non-believers about what scripture actually does say about hell and salvation in Christ, is a far worse hypocrite… to most humanist Atheists, apathy is far worse and less respectable than then being over-concerned and preaching doom on street corners… Being short-sighted about people’s long-term spiritual needs is wrong, just as being so far-sighted that you overlook people’s physical needs is wrong, and many Christians polarize themselves to either extreme, and don’t realize it makes them have an unbalanced testimony.

    I get that everyone is a hypocrite at times, myself included, and I have shied away from being direct about eternal consequences with people at times myself (though I know that ministering to people you have built real relationships with is often far more effective than drive-by Evangelism), so I’m not condemning you, just being real with you about the perspective of some knowledgeable Atheists you might not have considered, that is convicting to me personally, and may be to you as well… I mean, Jesus’ words in Luke 6:26 are pretty serious sounding, and we would both do well to regularly remember that ultimately we are going to have to answer to Him as our judge, not a jury of our peers – “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

    Here’s the last two verses of Matthew 28 I mentioned two paragraphs back, that I know pretty much all Christians are familiar with, that so many, including me, often overlook the importance of, because we’ve heard it so many times it seems like a worn-out cliche –

    “18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    – Matthew 28:18-20

    • I still think Jillette is pretty pushy, and even he admits he’s abrasive. When speaking about the last national election, he went on and on about “Mormon magic underwear”, why yes, Mr. Jillette, I know the folklore of my own religion very well, but I can’t think of any reasonable churchmates I know of that thinks they are magic. I don’t think they are magic. They are relevant to promises I made that I find personal, special, and very important to me, and so I don’t take kindly to a man that says, “No, no, you call them magical, it’s proof you’re all batshit crazy!” or laughs like a loon when the word “Mormonism” is said. He also wishes that all the world religions would fight viciously against each other as they did in days past, supposedly making the case that religious folk should be too busy squabbling with each other so real rational people like himself are left alone.

      I’ve studied the Bible and my own holy writ pretty well, actually– I took my religious and spiritual schooling very, very seriously. I think Jillette is a great entertainer, but is he someone I’d like to have discourse with? No. No, I think he’d be terrible company, and I think he’s said I’m free to turn him off if I don’t want to listen to him, so I do. I’ve listened to him about as much as I think is needful, and I don’t care for his style.

    • Personally, I am a Christian, so by nature of my beliefs, I don’t align all of mine with his. I didn’t mean to extol him as someone I view wise in all things, just that I recognise he has some wisdom. In the old testament, in 2 Samuel, scripture teaches that Solomon was gifted with unusual wisdom by God. A clear distinction should be drawn between having wisdom though, and living in light of it. As OT history tells us, Solomon lived wisely in some things, but his later life was clearly defined by not living in light of it. In Proverbs, we’re told metaphoricly that wisdom calls on the street. In many senses, it’s available to all intrinsicly as “common sense”, but many people, myself included often times, ignore common sense. It’s part of being human. I don’t make a habit of listen to the things Penn says, it’s a free country, and we’re free to listen or not listen to what we want to. Personally I wouldn’t want to hang out with him either, people who are deliberately abrasive and brag about it are pretty repugnant, and though you and I have differing views on some things, I wouldn’t seek to insult you 🙂

    • Fair enough. I can listen to Penn some, but after a while, he just tends to grate on my nerves. I appreciate some things he does– I thought the “Bullsh!t” episode on vaccines was VERY important. So I take what I figure is good, and leave the rest, and actually I think he’d be mostly fine with that.

  32. Great post!!! Why must religion (in this case Christianity, but we can also insert Muslim) convert at the point of a sword or hell fire and brimstone?? A true believer finds the Truth by themselves not by human condemnation of the live they life. You will convert more by your works than by your words. Live a good life, treat others like you want to be treated, and take care of those less fortunate and other people will want to be like you.

  33. Reblogged this on Thoughts of Kat Canfield and commented:
    I am reposting this as it says it better than I could. Religion should be between a person and his maker. Life a good life, treat others like you want to be treated, and take care of those who are less fortunate than you. Your works speaks move volume than all the words in language.

  34. We create hell on earth for each other.

    If you are interested, I’d encourage you to listen to This American Life’s interview of minister Carlton Pearce, a well renowned evangelical Christian minister who cast aside the idea of Hell, and what happened to him because of it.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/304/heretics

    All the best,

    Casey

  35. NIce write dude 😀 WHo can know what goes between a mans heart and God. It is not our place to discern but rather to put out our hands and hearts – encouragement and practical wisdom and help are a little more reputable then head bashing.

  36. I’m an atheist now, but I was raised Catholic. Every once in a while my father would get a little up there in his judgment of others. Nothing ugly like throwing people against a wall, but he liked to use the concept of mortal sin as a way of slut-shaming and reminding his daughters that it was apparently their responsibility to keep men in line. “Not only you, but the boy you let touch you, will be committing mortal sin.” Oyyyyyy. Then one day a priest said to him, “It’s all you can do to worry about your own salvation.” That pretty much stopped the commentary, but for my father then saying, “Look, it’s all I can do to worry about my own salvation. You kids will make your own choices.” He thought that was still a way of driving his points home, but my response was, “Yay, I don’t have to hear the exhortations of repression anymore!”

  37. Being a servant should be the primary focus for a Christian not passing judgement on others that is not our job. None escape sin or judgement therefore I wouldn’t be worried about others going to hell everyone will be judged accordingly

  38. Authentic Christianity is the lifeblood of the church. For in authenticity, there is Christ. His love. His sacrifice. To me, it seems that most of the rejection against God’s Word is more of a rejection of the hypocrisy of the Christian than the actual truth of His Word. No wonder Jesus reserved the strongest words against the religious who did far more damage than good in advancing God’s kingdom. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Absolutely……I think there is a trend, especially with the youth in western culture, where people are looking for authenticity….it’s easy to preach a sermon, it’s a lot harder to truly reach out and love others the way Jesus demonstrated with his life

  39. “….and instead too many churches are more concerned with telling people they are going to hell then dealing with poverty, homelessness, single mothers, single fathers…and all the other people in real need.”

    Kenneth,

    I just wrote something about beliefs, and about how it is that most churches scare the hell out of people. I have said it a million times already, that the reason that I have nothing good to say of most religions is because I was raised up in the church to believe that we had to behave OR ELSE !!!

    When I changed beliefs, it was my mother who asked me if I was sure that I wanted to turn against God, to which I repsonded with the thought that I am not turning against God, but against the God who makes me cry and be afraid, the God who thinks that I am meant to be enslaved by the fear brought about by being told, from a young age, that I was going to hell anyway.

    Most folks don’t realize that what you have written here is the truth – when the hell is it that these gigantic churches plan on doing what Christ would, what people like me (you know – evil ones because I do not follow anything that is not in the natural world) do ANYWAY because that is how we roll…we live by the truths which we speak…

    You rule, sir !!

    ROX

  40. I’m agnostic after being baptized and raised Presbyterian, attending and being involved in church until my early 20’s. I have loads of problems with religion of any kind though I can count on one hand the finest people I’ve known (or still know) in my life–all Christians. Christians who don’t (didn’t) speak of their faith, however; they live(d) it. Volunteering at soup kitchens, knitting blankets, etc. for needy babies or the homeless, administering to and most importantly, acknowledging the needs of the poor, hungry, hurting, sick, depressed…the disenfranchised. That’s the kind of life I want to lead and these five people played a big role in that.

  41. appreciate this you said: “The simple fact of the matter is that people gravitate toward authenticity; you don’t have to coerce people to the truth.”

  42. Well you opened a can of worms. 😉 I agree 100%. Can I just go around quoting your last paragraph? It’s ridiculous! ! (That means totally awesome if you are a child of the 90s.) LOL

    Oh and not one TX city in your tour? What’s up with that, Kenneth?

  43. It’s like Jesus said upon casting out a demon and being accused of being the Devil something along the lines of “evil casting out evil would be a kingdom dividing against itself. How can a kingdom like this stand?” With that, good casting out good (regardless of religious affiliation) would also be a kingdom dividing against itself. Unfortunately, the ‘you’re going to hell’ Christians seem to miss this point.

  44. Loved this Kenny! You truly are an inspiration and I’ve seen how many great things you’ve done. Hope we can watch up sometime! It’s been awhile. I could use some positive influence in my life.

  45. “As a Christian I can’t emphasize enough how much this bothers me about my fellow Christians. It drives me nuts. I have had many good friends throughout my life who are atheists, agnostics, as well as friends who believe in different religions……and it seems entirely absurd for me to attack their beliefs by telling them they are headed to hell because they don’t believe what I do.”
    -This is one great point Kenneth! I remember one pastor of our church condemning me for having a Catholic gf. That’s ridiculous! 2 weeks before the pastor said that to me, my gf (a hardcore fashionista) donated a quarter of her clothing to our church for our relief projects. I also remember a certain pastor who asked our small group if who cannot speak in tongues. I raised my hand, probably the only hand in the group. She told me that i should not lose hope for I will eventually learn how to do it. Crazy!

  46. Dude – you nailed it in this post! One word comes to mind after reading so many excellent points: REFRESHING.

  47. Excellent post Kenneth. Within man religions there tends to be sort of a “your either with us or against us sort of mentality”. Historically within the last couple millennia, Christianity and Islam have been particular bad in this regard. Which is sad, because I do not believe Jesus or Mohammed were trying to instill fear in the people they preached too, but to inspire strength. My dad was born in the Sikh religion, and the origins of that faith are also rooted in empowerment, not making others feel powerless. What I have read of the Bhagavad Gita also seems to echo similar themes. The roots of most religious movements are in inspiration and not in fear. It is only when in the hands of those hungry for power that religion gets used as a tool of oppression.

    Your statement about authenticity is absolutely beautiful. I have come to realize that argumentation even has its limits in convincing someone to your point of view. It is through your actions that people begin to admire you and want to emulate you. If you are a good and compassionate person, people will start to come to you, and want to know what you believe and what has given you the world view that you have. Being good to people, all people, is the best form of argumentation in the end. But of course that shouldn’t be your motivation for being good, because it could be that people are happy with who they are already, they just need some help and that should be enough. And the fact that many different religions and world views can lead to a good and decent human being, so it is unreasonable for any of us to expect that your views can ever be shown to be superior to anyone else. But fear is definitely not a good motivator. It might work in the short term, but you really have to keep that level of fear up, because eventually someone will come along with the ability to inspire, and you will eventually lose your grip on power.

  48. Thank you for this great message! People using God to justify their greed and hatred towards others is not what Jesus was about, and is exactly the behaviour that turns people away. It is so sad.

  49. It’s amazing how humans muck things up so bad. Something good for us and we turn it into an excuse to be horrid to other people. It’s insane. I agree that we’ve lost focus on what religion is supposed to be about and that’s so unfortunate. I still hope that this eventually is addressed. The Pope is really giving me lots of hope for the future. 🙂

  50. “The simple fact of the matter is that people gravitate toward authenticity; you don’t have to coerce people to the truth.”

    Wish I shared your optimism 😛

    I do think that you *can’t* coerce people to the truth. They’ll just hate you and keep believing whatever they did. To convince someone of the truth, you have to first convince them that you’re worth listening to.

    Threats of hellfire are especially baffling to me as an atheist. Do these guys really think that threatening me with something that holds absolutely no threat to me (remember, I don’t believe in hell at this point…) is going to scare me into believing? Seriously, I’ve heard about hell before, why would it suddenly work now?

  51. I am a non-practicing catholic with a wide range of spiritual beliefs, my wife is a true atheist, that is someone who believes there is no God, so you could imagine what we don’t talk about in our house…

    That said, if you approach life with the underlying ideal of simply making the world a better place than how you found it then I can’t see why we should attach so much importance to belief or ideology. Variety of opinion is what makes opinions worth-while and the same can be said for beliefs, If everyone was a catholic I’d vote myself out and do something else out of boredom.

    I think that is a failure of modern group-think, the demand for conformity.

    Let’s yell and scream and disagree and have a drink together afterwards I say.

  52. No doubt Christians need to push charity. Telling people who may not believe in hell that they are going there, is not going to be any more effective then telling them they are going to “never never land” if they don’t shape up.

    In defense of the church.

    1) The word charity has taken on the meaning of giving to the poor. But the original greek word which we translate to charity is agape. Which basically means unconditional christian love. “Faith hope and love” is often translated “faith hope and charity” but here charity does not mean “alms giving” it means love. The idea that charity means giving to the poor is actually an offshoot of Chistians who so often expressing their christian love by alms giving. I have heard a few scholars claim that before Christianity charity wasn’t really considered a virtue.

    2) You probably don’t hear many stories about churches giving to the poor anymore because the media is not really interested in playing up Christianity. But last I checked Americans and especially christian Americans give much more than other populations.

    Ok lets just agree no one should be shoving people into a wall. But does anyone ever deserve a slap?

    • Trueandreasonable,

      I think your forgetting;

      1) the very message of Christ when he read from the scriptures in the temple that first time….go back and see who Christ truly came for

      2) saint James admonishment that pure religion is serving the orphans, widows, etc…..

    • Do you mean Luke 2:41-52? I’m not sure. But my understanding is Jesus came to save sinners.

      I don’t think I am forgetting James I think I am saying the church has to at least some extent walked the walk Saint James said they should through-out the centuries. That is why the word Charity (which now pretty much means giving to the poor) has origins with the word for christian love – agape.

  53. Hi Kenneth, as usual, a little late in commenting, but found this an interesting article. I would venture to say that the church, (not God) has been the cause of more people turning to atheism than any other entity. The reason for this to my mind is very clear. The God that the vast majority of Christendom teach/preach/show to the world is a figment of man’s imagination and the exact antithesis of the God the Bible reveals. I have written recently on this myself, and I know it isn’t very good etiquette to publicise oneself on another’s blog, but thought you would be interested in my post entitled “Who is the God you don’t Believe In?”
    Good post and thoughts. Brendan.

  54. Cm, I believe that it is not our job to convict others of their sin. No matter how well-intentioned, we are all sinners, I.e. none of us is perfect. The Holy Spirit has the task of convicting of sin. He is better at it than any of us ever will be.
    Also, this splendid essay you have provided points out the difference between people….those comfortable with scrutiny and criticism of others tend to comment in an unapproving manner. Those who are not comfortable commenting and disapproving tend to be more tolerant, even if their disapproval is deep-seeded. It may be all about “not judging.”

  55. i can see that your name is justice for a reason. i like the way you think and admire that you’re brave and consistent enough to practice what you preach. i know that jesus was not a big fan of hypocrisy. thanks also for liking my latest blog post.

  56. (i already wrote this comment, but i’m writing it again as it seems to have been lost in cyberoblivion): i can see why your name is justice. i like the way you think. you’re brave and consistent to practice what you preach. as i recall, jesus was not a big fan of hypocrisy. thanks also for liking my latest blog post.

  57. looks as if it did get recorded after all. D’OH! sorry to repeat myself myself.

  58. Maybe the pastor who ‘slammed the guy against the wall’ was right; tough love kind of thing. Remember Paul who withstood Peter TO THE FACE? Same kind of thing. Did the pastor slam him in LOVE??? Ha, who would agree, but the point is, he CARED enough for him to put his reputation on the line. People do not do that, too fearful of what others MAY think.

    As far as hell, it is a doctrine after all, and it should never be avoided, just lke teaching on gluttony should not be avoided; but, let every man be persuaded in his own mind; there are many parts to the body, and it would be foolish to say to the little finger ‘I have no need of you.’ Maybe the preachers of ‘hell’ are simply little fingers.

    What WE THINK about anothers’ ministry, and what God thinks, will no doubt surprise us.

Trackbacks

  1. FACTORING IN ETERNITY | Citizen Tom
  2. Judge Not… Whatever! | Mind Pulp

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