I Believe Dinosaurs Existed, The Earth Is Old, Adam And Eve Weren’t Real People—And That’s Okay!

jesusdino

The Christian Faith I grew up with was a pass-fail proposition.

You were either:
in or out,
saved or damned,
Christian or not—period.

The only problem was, the people who decided such things kept moving the darn line.

For example, to be “Bible believing” meant you were most definitely in, however if you concluded that the earth was more than 6,000 years old or that there probably wasn’t actually a talking snake in Genesis’ creation story or that a specific woman named Eve most likely didn’t get formed from another guy named Adam’s rib or that God didn’t actually dictate the Bible from Heaven or drop it already written, leather-bound and shrink-wrapped from the sky; well then you weren’t actually Bible believing after all, and you were out—written off as a heretic or a backslider.

And so it went with God and the things of God and God’s people. They all got shrunken down and with it so did the Christian faith.

Over the last several hundred years, Christianity has evolved into an ever-narrowing set of criteria regarding what one can believe about the Bible or about Jesus, or how once can vote on the hot button issues or hear God’s voice, or pray, worship, love, or breathe and still be a card-carrying Christian with valid membership in The Club. And inclusion here is heavily guarded by self-appointed, self-righteous gatekeepers who claim a monopoly on genuine faith and proper expression of that faith, and who rush to deem someone else “not really a Christian“.

If you’re like me and you’re one of the millions of people who finds themselves in one or a thousand ways deviating from what is “correct,” please understand how relative and unhelpful that word really is when it comes to the Creator of all that has ever been created.

Here’s some really good news for us all:

You can be a Christian and…

– not believe that people born LGBTQ are inherently sinful because of that fact.
– trust much of what Science has revealed about the world and how it works.
– not believe in a talking snake.
– believe that Hell might not really exist.
– notice what appear to be contradictions in the Bible.
– not believe you need a magic prayer to escape eternal torment.
– have non-Christian friends without having an agenda to “get them saved”.
– allow Biology, Archeology, Astronomy, and Psychology to all shape your Theology.
– point out when you see a church or pastor doing damage or perpetuating hatred.

– believe that dinosaurs existed on a very, very old earth.
– not vote Republican.
– see the beauty and truth in other faith traditions and even joyfully learn from them.
– believe that there is true stuff not in the Bible, and stuff in the Bible that isn’t true.
– not go to church on Sundays.
– have unresolved questions about major tenets of the Christian faith.
– not be completely sure who Jesus is but yet love him deeply and walk in his ways.

Power and control are seductive things, even for otherwise spiritual people. As a result, many Christians and church leaders often find themselves compelled to try and exert both of these over others, in matters of faith. In order to do this, they will often belittle people and malign their character and question their authenticity and doubt their intelligence and evaluate their morality and discount their experiences, should those people come to different spiritual conclusions than their own.

Reject this treatment at all costs my friends as it’s of the Devil (if he exists).

If someone tells you that you’re not doing Christianity right, simply refuse to believe them because they aren’t qualified to make such a claim. They are, after all human and as a result they are as equally flawed, biased, and full of contradictions and inconsistencies as they can ever claim that you are. They have the same evidence at their disposal that you do; the same Scriptures and the same books and the same ability to reason and understand and experience and listen and decide.

No one, no matter how earnest or faithful or educated or passionate or dedicated has an objective faith.

We are all equally products of our specific stories and the sum totals of our upbringing, education, personality type, place of birth, mentors, teachers, and life experiences. As a result none of us can ever claim sole ownership of the Truth.

Friends, despite what you may have experienced or been led to believe, Christianity is massive and wildly diverse and uncontainable, if it accurately refers to a God who is certainly all those things.

God cannot be placed in a box.
God is the box.
All that is true and good and beautiful is of that God.
And you get to live in it and breathe it in and discover it without constraints.

Never let someone else shrink your story. If Jesus wants your faith to look different than it does, trust that he will tell you himself; not a famous preacher or a church friend—and definitely not some random dude on a blog comment section.

Your Christianity is no other human being’s jurisdiction.

Be encouraged.

305 thoughts on “I Believe Dinosaurs Existed, The Earth Is Old, Adam And Eve Weren’t Real People—And That’s Okay!

    • Am I wrong for being nervous about agreeing with you? I have 58 years of having the stuff drilled in my head. I am in the boat with you. I believe that the bible has been interpreted so many times and ways that truly it’s between you and God regarding your understanding. We should study, research, and pray continually to seek answers and not just rely on another human being to be 100% correct. I’m glad someone else said what I’ve been thinking. And I am an Independent Moderate.

  1. That’s got to be the strangest thing I have ever read coming from a so called Christian. I kept looking for the disclaimer that this whole thing was satire, but unfortunately I didn’t find it. If what this article says is what you believe, you sir have no business telling anyone about Jesus or Christianity, because obviously you have not witnessed the rebirth through the Holy Spirit yet, as He would never encourage anyone to say the lies that you just managed to type for people to believe. Yes the Bible says that we all have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, I pray that some day, the true God will get hold of you and truly transform you into his image, because right now you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the truth warns us of people like you. You are part of those moving the lines. If you don’t believe the truth, just say so and be done with it and Christians can quit reading your trash, but until then, you don’t deserve to write anything about Christianity, with the exception that you know nothing about it.

    • Feel free to stop reading my “trash” Robert.

      As for me, what I write are the honest expressions of my path and my experience with faith and religion as a Christian since birth. I don’t need to please you or justify it to you or make excuses.

      Be well.

      • Interesting that there are over 46,000 Christian denominations yet so many believe they have the right to tell others what is a ‘Christian’ life. They can’t get along in their own sandbox. They certainly haven’t grown up enough to tell others what to believe. I loved this article. Keep up the wonderful writing! 🙂

        • Actually, the denominations are largely a reflection of church management, not their belief system. The core beliefs are the same. The bible does not teach a command on how ‘exactly’ to do the gathering of believers, also known as church.

          • I would say the main reason for numerous denominations is doctrinal differences. These differences will result in how a church body or denomination is governed, though. My question is, if there is “one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism”, and believers are influenced by the Holy Spirit, then why are there so many divisions in the body of Christ?

      • Billions of adherents.

        30-40,000 denominations.

        Countless non-denominational interpretations.

        Not one single rock-solid, unified, consistent doctrine in any of it.

        And every single person in the religion thinks that his or her take on the faith is correct and can use the Bible to justify that position.

        The conclusion I must draw:
        There is no way in the world that any one Christian can be totally positive that his or her version of the religion is the totally 100% correct one. So I get concerned and my BS meter starts ticking over when I hear someone try to claim such a thing. And in the meanwhile, I’d rather see a Christian err on the side of being loving than being correct enough in doctrine.

        • Actually, the denominations are largely a reflection of church management, not their belief system. The core beliefs are the same. The bible does not teach a command on how ‘exactly’ to do the gathering of believers, also known as church. Thus you have a variety. That’s not a big deal. L

          Also, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Love triumphs

        • Captain Cassidy,
          You must meet the root of David (Rev 5:1-5). The Scriptures are sealed (Isaiah 29:11-14). There is only 1 that can open the scroll and reveal all the mysteries(Isaiah 34:16). God said; “I will make known the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10)

      • Great article John. Robert’s comments got me thinking about how so many Christians (many with Th.M behind their name) insist on continuing to be the gatekeepers of these “rules” that extend religion far beyond the boundaries of the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Being one who silently questioned so many so-called “truths” about faith in God, it is more than refreshing to read your blogs. Thank you for being one who isn’t afraid to say the Emporer has no clothes on. The interesting thing is, the more I question what men tell me, the more faith and trust I have in what God through His Holy Spirit tells me. Thanks for telling the truth amidst the religious zealots all around us!

        • “The interesting thing is, the more I question what men tell me, the more faith and trust I have in what God through His Holy Spirit tells me. ”
          Don – EXACTLY! I feel this way too but have been unable to find the words.

        • I remind myself that those people have the audacity to claim to know the unknowable Will of God. They believe that they understand His word sufficiently to limit His opinions. I believe it when Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but by me.” What I can’t know are His standards for passage. If God’s will were knowable by man, it certainly wouldn’t be great enough to serve His purposes.

      • I think what is most important in my faith is that I don’t have to have all the answers and I don’t have to be right. I just trust that the God that made this incredible universe has my back and He asks little in return except that I love everyone as Jesus would. It’s certainly not easy but it wasn’t easy for Jesus, either.
        My fundamentalist friends insist on an absolute answer on every subject, every situation and that answer must be rooted in scripture. Any deviation from that is considered “cherry-picking” and that means you’re hell-bound. For the life of me, I still can’t figure out how these people can say they don’t cherry-pick with a straight face and somehow disregard old Levticius who wants to stone everybody to death for eating a slice of bacon or wearing clothes of two different fabrics. Hey, if you’re gonna live the bible cover to cover, you better be comfortable with some bloodshed.
        Since I left my church (Southern Methodists, aka Baptist) I’ve grown much closer to God because I’m now in a relationship with him and not trying to figure out what scripture passage covers what side of the road I should walk my dog on. Sure I cherry pick the Bible because God gave me a brain and a heart. He didn’t make nearly 4 billion of us here now so we could be religious zombies.
        Thank you John, for your excellent article. It spoke the words my heart has been searching for.

      • stop listening to people and read the BIBLE you know GOD’s WORD and it explains all you need to know. The “TRUTH”. Jesus is the only one who SAVES not man! and you definitely can not save yourself no matter how good you think you are or how many good deeds you have done. No one merits their way to heaven,

        only by the grace of Jesus Christ alone.

      • Darn, John – you’re really looking for a beating from the Bible thumpers! You know, they already crucified one guy….

      • Lol, well played John.

        It seems most people missed the real point of John’s article. See John is a blogger, who monetizes his website. He gets paid for ad impressions. The more people view the page, the more he gets paid. You don’t have to click on the ads to make him money, he gets paid per ad impression, and the name of the aim of the game is try to generate as much traffic as you can. While its possible that John just a felt a strong desire to share his personal struggles with other, when you look at the article as whole, the quality of the writing, the image of Jesus on a dinosaur, well its just as feasible (and to me its clear as day) that he was also motivated by money, or in other words greed. Do not doubt for one second that money isn’t a factor on his website, just look around at all the spam.

        Greed.

      • John,

        I think that a lot of what you have to say is valid. I agree that there are many Christians and tenets of Christianity that are not working from a place of love. Of course, we are human and all have the ability to operate out of pride, self-righteousness, and/or trying to control other people, regardless of our beliefs. I also understand that our life experiences shape what we think, feel, believe but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are true. Just because something is true for me, doesn’t mean it will agree with someone else’s truth. Now, this here is the problem. We all can run around believing whatever we want but that doesn’t mean it is true. Obviously, you covered quite a few topics and I can’t go into the specifics but in my opinion, all of this boils down to one thing: people want to be their own Gods. At the center, it is the worship of the self. And I’m not putting anyone on a pedestal or saying that Christians are better than anyone else because we all have this issue. How can you accept some of Jesus’ words but not all of them? I agree that only God can be the judge of people’s hearts but what if Jesus is really who he said he was? What if he really did use men to write about the works of God and moved in their hearts in a powerful way? And what if we actually took God at his word and lived the way he instructed us to instead of having a “form of godliness but denying its power.” You say you believe in God, great. But then why do you deny him and his teachings at the same time? I don’t know who is saved and who is not but I know that if the answers are right in front of me, it’s my choice to take them or leave them. People just don’t want the whole truth because it isnt comfortable. It isn’t “nice” in a way that seeks to please people rather than actually love them which requires deep sacrifice, sacrifice of pride, self-righteousness, letting go of the fear of man…

        I’ll just leave with this…

        “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

        Forgive me if I sound prideful in my post. I sincerely don’t want to come from a place of arrogance but wanting all of us to understand the truth, whatever it is.

        • Hi Joelle,

          I don’t 100% agree with everything that Jon said, but I also don’t think that anything he said falls into the categories of the verses you quoted…that was kind of the point of the article. The fact that he believes differently doesn’t make him selfish, arrogant, treacherous, or anything else negative. It also doesn’t mean that he believes in the Bible any less than you do. Differences in historical knowledge, context, rhetorical style, and other factors necessarily mean that we can all read the same sentence or passage and glean different meanings from it. The Bible is a collection of diverse, sometimes complex, books, and we should grapple with the things it says and we shouldn’t shy away from discussion of it.

        • So thankful for your brave words. I so often pray for those who make their own rules In the name of “Jesusloved” and I beg God to make my faith and love and fear strong enough to believe and obey allthe words of the Bible, even the ones I don’t like and cause me to be hated by others. I must remember that we are the creation and He is the creator. Now we question him?

      • John, I’ve been confused for a long time about whether I believe in God or Jesus, because a part of me held that there had to be something more, and the more I read about the idea of intelligent design and the infinitely remote chance of all the factors required to create life occurring by chance, the more confused I became, because science was almost proving that it there HAD to be some design, but I couldn’t blindly believe what the church and “Christians” were telling me was fact. Your words are bringing me a measure of peace in that you can believe in the ‘Word’ of God and Jesus that fits with what science tells us about ourselves and the universe. So thank you John, for bringing this drifter back to a safe harbour, where I no longer feel lost trying to reconcile my scientific brain with my spiritual brain. Everytime I read your words, they help me feel a little more at peace with what I believe. You are a prophet for our ages. Thank you.

      • How does one become Christian from birth? Isn’t it a concious choice when one reacheds an age of accountability? I have heard of baby dedications, but that doesn’t make you a christian either.
        I didnt read any research sited or scripture contradictions. So one must conclude that these are just your opinions rather than well thought-out and researched facts. If you are a student of the Bible which I’m assuming that you’re really not you may have skipped a few pages but definitely not a student of the Bible. Then you would know that you will be held accountable for anyone who you lead astray my advice to you sir to go back to the drawing board research read and pray allow God 2 mold and change your preconceived ideas comma and lead you to the truth.

        • Another one of the sheep bleating! They have to jump on the fact that he said christian since birth when he probably wasn’t even aware he said it that way. It has no bearing on the bulk of his words.

        • We don’t all believe that Christians have to be “born again.” I cannot find a single day or moment when i began believing in God, it was a message that was communicated to me by family and friends SINCE BIRTH and something that became a personal faith commitment over time. I, too, would say that i have been a Christian since birth.

      • Christian since birth? Good Lord, that would be a miracle indeed! What about just before you were born? Were you a Christian then? Did you become a Chrisitan because you were born, or because of something else? How do you know you were a Christian since birth? Did your mother tell you when you were, like, five? “Yep! This one’s a Christian!” How did she know? Was there an identifying mark? Were you singing “Amazing Grace” or something? How does that even work?

        ~a

      • John… I commend you having started your thoughts with LGBT inclusion. That really gets the attention of a “real Christian”. I have pondered why the subject has a specially very potent impact on many “good” Christians who look cross-eyed into the Bible and their Sunday pastor’s revelations to justify the type of rancor they feel and expressed when otherwise are surely “good Christian” people. When I am confronted with those sentiments, even from my very Christian mother and sister, I have begun to tell them that I don’t see Jesus (per biblical recounting of his life) ever being concerned with homophobic thoughts. You have to really try hard to find any subsequent biblical references, but no dearth of sermonizing on the subject. I am glad than Pope Francis weighed in with … “whom am I to judge”. Remember…he too took a lot of heat for expressing such a real Jesus inspired statement.
        For those who just couldn’t get past this first one, much less of the others on your list… hopefully some day their “box” will weaken and no longer be able to sustain all the hypocrisy. I for one appreciate being challenged and reflecting on your thoughts. Thx

      • This right here is why I follow you. You get that our faith is a living, breathing thing that is always moving and we should move with it. I grew up in the church, but in high school I got very involved with the Cristian club at school (So much that I ended up having a sit down with the principal and a lawyer to have the club finally recognized by the school and be included in the year book and I won.) I became a radicalized Christian, a loud, obnoxious person who lived to make converts, and I was good at it. My parents still say it was watching me change is what brought them back to God. Then I realized I identify as LGBTQ in my 20s and everything changed on a dime. Since then I’ve kept my faith, but never felt accepted. You gave me hope in the church and you still do. I am grateful for you and your blog, you helped me save my life and when I see people try and Christian shame you it makes me mad. Then you respond and it convinces me that I’m not alone. I just wanted to get that off my chest. Thank you.

      • I have just read your Dec 1st blog about how you feel something is not right in you and the desperation you are feeling. May I suggest that perhaps it is because spending most of one’s time promoting hate and bigotry does not bring peace to the soul? You think you are tolerant because of your position on the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Black Lives Matter, and just about everyone else with the exception of Republicans and/or Evangelical Christians. You blatantly hate and continue to condemn us on FB every single day. Do you not see that you have turned into the very thing that you hate so much? You imagine yourself as noble, open minded, and tolerant, yet you are just as filled with hate and bigotry that you imagine Donald J Trump supporters are, just against different things. I am an Evangelical Christian and a Donald J Trump supporter. News flash: I am not filled with hate and neither are most of the millions of Americans who voted Republican. I do not demonize those of you who voted for her. I do not hate gays, or Blacks or Muslims. I do not condemn other denominations of the Christian church, other than my own. I actually try to understand and respect opinions different from mine. There is a hopelessness and desperation among liberals these days, and I notice many look to you to provide healing and an answer. Yet what do they find there? A barren place that is devoid of love, joy, peace or respect and they do not find any healing or hope there. They find only encouragement to hold onto their anger and hatred for half of America. It hurts that you are unfairly demonizing me and millions of others like me and are promoting such a deep divide even among Christians. It is frightening that you are poisoning so many minds and hearts and causing your followers to feel justified in promoting this unique brand of hate and bigotry that so many seem blind to. This is stuff that needs to be said. I will pray for you.

        • Those who strongly disagree with true Bible believers call themselves enlightened and the Bible believers bigots. Is it not possible that Bible believers are enlightened and those who disagree with them so stongly are bigots?

          Jesus absolutely loved everyone and associated with everyone. But in every case he loved those who bucked against Gods commands enough to say “Go your way and sin no more”

          • Nope, he’s just calling out the current crop of evangelical christians (pharisees) that put their spirituality aside to vote for a morally bankrupt president who proves it every time he opens his mouth. i’m 64 years old, was raised as a Southern Baptist and I have never seen anything like the hate, devisiveness and bigotry coming out of the current administration supported by evangelical christianity.

      • I believe much like you Pastor John. What a beautiful thought provoking article. I shared this on my Facebook page because it shares many of my same views. Please don’t let others opinions stop you in spreading your message of love. It’s a message desperately needed in the world today.

      • So true. Those of us who follow you, and have found our own spirituality, truths, and relationship with Jesus know who we are and don’t have to explain it to any one. Especially not those who judge and bully in the name of God. They will never see how expansive and loving God is – their cognitive dissonance us too great.

      • You’re not a Christian at birth. We are born into this world as sinners because of the actions of Adam and Eve. So your very premise is incorrect. However, since you believe the bible is “just a book”, this might not bother you. Yet, it fears me that you are leading so many astray. I’m sorry that you had such experiences that led you to this path of disparity.

      • A “Christian since birth” – your words. Jesus told us “you must be born again” – I highly recommend you pursue this – His words.

      • Please keep it up, Jon. I had walked away from my faith because of people Robert. If I had to believe the things they were telling me I had to believe in order to be a Christian, I decided I’d rather not be one. But reading your thoughts has allowed me to balance what I know in my heart to be true with my faith. You haven’t said anything I haven’t thought a thousand times, but it’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one.

    • I agree with John. And do not make the mistake of thinking that Th. M. after your name means something. It all depends on where you got it and how well you did. If you got it from a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical college or seminary, as far as I am concerned, it is a piece of trash that is not worth the paper it is written on—and your writing above pretty much suggests just that to me.

    • Robert, it seems that you want to defend the faith and be clear about what you see as truth and what you see as false. These are noble intentions and part of any Christian’s work of understanding and exploring theology and truth. The challenge is doing this with an attitude of respect and willingness to allow others time and space to navigate their bumpy, circuitous journeys toward knowing Jesus. it is difficult – yet essential to Christ-likeness – to ask Father God how to express what you believe is true or important while treating others with respect and kindness. I am challenged daily to remember that it is the KINDNESS of God that brings us to repentance…not shaming or punishment or judgement or warnings….kindness.

    • It’s always baffled me that “Christians” think God can be categorized into man-made time & space. He’s bigger than that so wouldn’t that lead you to believe that “7 days” in the Bible doesn’t necessarily refer to 7 days in human time?!?!
      You’re making God (and Jesus) much to small, Robert Davis. You might want to stop that….

      • If the 7 days were not human time, the plants would die because they were created before the sun. Also how can those days be millions of years before adam sinned? That would have to mean that all animals were vegan for millions of years which we know was not the case. There was no death before sin but after sin death entered the world. thats just one of many problems with the day age theory…

    • It pains me to read a comment like this – mainly because it screams fear – and this is the battle cry of fundamentalism.

      Secondly, your accusing John of moving the lines truly gave me pause. When did Jesus *not* move the lines? Did He move a line when daring the adulterous woman’s accusers to cast the first stone? Did he move a line when allowing His disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath? What about Sabbath healings? Healing the Gentile “dog?” Healing the woman with “an issue of blood?” Touching the leper? In these and other examples, He was moving man-made and not God’s religious “lines.” He was revealing a God Who exists and operates outside man’s lines.

      John’s writings are encouraging people to love God and love others in ways that don’t track with fossilized fundamentalism but, instead, produce the good fruit that Jesus talks about in Matt. 7:16.

      • Meredith,

        I could say a lot of words but I won’t. Your response to this article is absolutely correct. Christ broke all of the rules of religion and we can see the fruit that he produced. Thanks again.

        • Christ didn’t come to break all of the rules of religion. He himself said that he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The problem with the law that Jesus was opposed to was commandments taught by men. The Pharisees and priests of the time were so caught up in their religion, self-righteousness, and pride that they were unable to draw near to God himself. He said that they searched the scriptures daily but failed to come to God himself. They were living a works-based faith, doing things in order to earn right-standing with God. They were living not in dependence of God but rather, independent from him. They would my submit to God and allow him to be Lord over their lives. This is the same thing. We cannot sit here and accept only some of what Jesus said. He said that all of our righteous deeds are as rags. He said he came to save sinners. He said that no one is justified by their works but by accepting him, all of him. Not merely believing that he exists because guess what? He said that even the demons believe. It is an act of the will to believe and follow God. It is a heart relationship. It is a yielding of our independence of God.

    • Robert, first let me thank you. I thought one of the Bible’s traditions had passed away. But now I see that you have kept it alive and practice it every day. I am talking about my ancestors, those who followed the Pharisee code.

      Robert your are a true Pharisee and would make most of them proud. Almost all of them except one called Saul, who later preferred to be called Paul.

      Pharisee demand that someone become pure and clean before they can approach God. Jesus came not for them, but for the sinners. Jesus spent time with the lost and those the religious would consider unworthy. And what did Jesus do?

      Did he demand they follow a script code of beliefs, aka a creed?

      No, Jesus dined with them and offered love and grace and forgiveness. I suggest you try it. It might hell you take that plank out of your eye.

    • In his reply here, Robert Davis exemplifies, better than any possible additional example or further clarification that he could write, exactly the issues that John Pavlovitz has so eloquently addressed.
      On first reading, I thought that this reply might be an ironic jest, a “wink, wink, nod, nod” sort of encouragement for John…Oh, that it were so….Unfortunately, Robert is not far enough ‘over the top’ with his remarks for that to be the case — rather, he is just far enough over to illustrate for all of us just how far past any possible railing of sanity and coherent constraint the evangelical right has sailed in its quest of doctrinal purity and ideological idealism.
      BRAVO, JOHN PAVLOVITZ!
      YUCCHH! to Robert Davis.
      Rev Gregory Myers

      • I wish there was a “like” button below your comment, like on Facebook. But alas, all I can do here is say “like”. Thank you.

    • Amen. As this article was shared by a “Christian” friend I too was waiting for the satirical flip, but it never arrived. Not surprising as so many are duped by our enemy. Who would have thought that it would be so easy to mislead in this day and age but alas the if it feels good do it generation has once again shown their spineless inability to call a spade a spade. Prayers for those who choose to call bad good.

    • “If you don’t believe the truth, just say so…” I love when theo-babble makes a sentence unintelligible.

      “I pray that some day, the true God will get hold of you…” Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure you prayed and wept with so much love for poor, lost John. With so much love in your heart, where Jesus lives, also weeping. What a joke.

    • Love bears all things, believes only Christian things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (as revised to reflect Christian dogma). Actually, Love believes all things. John Pavlovitz understands truth. And God is not threatened or worried at all about John’s understanding. Truth, understanding, and wisdom are, however, very threatening to the dogmatic mindset of the ego. Let go of the egoic mindset and enter the Kingdom of God. Be happy! Be full of Joy! Be full of Peace! Be blessed!

    • You clearly know nothing about christianity. Your brainwashed by earthly Ideas and you want to feel more faithful and devout than everyone else when in fact you are one that would rather spread hate and disdain than joy and understanding, as Jesus would certainly want you to do. Have you ever heard of jesus Robert?

    • You are exactly the kind of person that ruins Christianity for everyone else. People have turned away from Christianity because of people such as yourself. I know, because I once turned away from Christianity due to people like you. I’m so glad I found other Christians who know the Truth. You, Sir, have quite a bit of work to do during your time here on earth, and I pray that during your remaining time you shape-up or ship-out. I’d be careful if I were you, because there is an afterlife and your energy signature is not welcomed into the all-loving Spirit vibes that surround us all, you’ll be doomed to come-back and “go to school” all over again. Getting to Heaven is easy. You can do it while you’re right here on earth. You don’t have to die first. But, you do have to learn to love others, unconditionally, and not judge. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” …and so, I have judged you as you have judged others. Try to make your remaining school days as positive as you can, and follow the code that gets you into Heaven.

      Christ is cool.
      Be like Christ.

    • Thank you for proving his point. I look forward to your scorn and judgement as you obviously have it all worked out. How is that pole in your eye coming along?

    • And here I was, looking for the disclaimer that your whole comment was satire, but it unfortunately I didn’t find it. Oh Mr. Robert Davis, Th. M: didn’t you just prove his entire point. It must be so lovely to have all the answers. Please pray for me.

      Actually, please don’t. I have no interest in your club.

    • I can’t even express to you the weight that was taken off my shoulders when I read this. I have been a Christian for 45 years (I was saved during the Jesus movement in the 70’s) but over time my thinking and questions have evolved into not knowing what I believed! It’s like I’ve been given permission to have questions and permission to say it’s OK that I don’t believe everything I was taught as the be all and end all of life. As for me now I just want to love as I have been loved and not worry at all about all the other stuff.

    • Quite honestly you are ill informed. There is no formula to Christianity. You don’t even use a name for your deity. You use a description and try to claim it as your own which is ludicrous. You are not supposed to judge. A lot of people think the same way as this writer. Most people follow Paul and NOT Jesus and spout stuff from the Old Testament which is solely Judaism. I could go on and on b ut most who complain usually don’t know what they are talking about because they sit in church listen to someone tell them what things mean in one book and mostly KJV which no one can sit down and understand because many of the words meant different things then than they do now. They try to pick and choose from the Ten Commandments. If you are in a new dispensation then don’t talk about the commandments because you clearly don’t follow the fourth. You misinterpret and teach things from the Old Testament that are wrong. After all Christians did not write it. You have no right to judge anyone else and tell them they are not a Christian because it doesn’t agree with your most likely Protestant view of Christianity which could be perceived as heresy. I don’t exactly go there but it could be because Reformist changed the books in the Bible and what was decided at the Councils of Nicea. People can call themselves Christians even if they don’t believe in certain things. Many Pastors preach falsehoods. There are so many denominations that have different interpretations and all of you bicker over who is right and it is always, “your” beliefs even if you can’t really verify it. Some believe Jesus was black and use verse to try and prove it. Not so no matter what they want to believe or what verse they try to twist and the fact of the matter is it is insignificant. Stop judging others and don’t proselytize because quite frankly no one living has the corner on Christianity. It becomes very evident when responses become defensive. Everyone has the right to believe as they wish. If you are Protestant your views are not in line with early Christianity. Check out the oldest still in existence, the Syriac church. You here or no one else posting a comment has the right to call anyone out for believing differently. For a long time the Christians who didn’t call themselves that early on had no book, and still had titular gods; statues they kept in their homes. What this writer wrote should not be judged and it is NOT trash. There are many mansions. Angers me when people post to tell the person they are trying to rewrite the Bible and a long list of other things because that is exactly what the Protestants tried to do and most ethical and loving people don’t try to put them down because these types of denominations are legion in the United States. It’s no one’s business what someone else believes but they do have the right to write about it and be treated respectfully. You are not an emissary of the I AM, you are just a human being. We don’t all agree on things.

    • It’s all a hoax….sorry…organized religion is noything more than a system put in place to control the masses….it’s very effective and is still effective even today.I understand that many find comfort and hope and for that I an grateful.But we would al do much better just practicing the golden rule and with the Earth as our house of worship….we could all still run programs and outreach to help the less less fortunate and no one would have to fight and start wars over their religious beliefs….it’s been reduced to tribal bullshit.

    • Deserve? Really? Do you “deserve” the right to tell others that they’re wrong because they have a different point of view? There are so many denominations out there with different opinions (with their own biblical backup), but yours is the only right one?

    • I really enjoyed your post rebuking this guy. Not because you’re correct, but because you apparently believe the key to debate is to simply say, “you’re wrong,” and walk away. It’s always fun to find folks who supposedly care about one’s salvation, but not enough to actually address their concerns fully.

      How can you say this man is wrong in what he says yet offer zero reason as to why?

    • Robert, you prove the point of everything John writes. You are the reason he needs to write. Try thinking. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom not kool-aid.

    • Thank you so very much for your comment, Robert! I firmly stand behind the teachings of the Bible and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I realize the world of Christianity may look differently today than it did even 50 years ago, however I abhorrently believe that our God’s commands still ring true! As humans, our #1 priority is to witness to those that do not know the ways of our chosen Savior. I was born into a Christian family and we are raising our children as such. I have many friends/acquaintances in the LGBTQ community and I’m also in the medical profession, therefore I face this on a daily basis. It has been & continues to be a struggle for me as a Christian, as I am unsure as to how to “feel” about their life choices. The only thing that helps me through any kind of moral battle like this is what I was raised to believe. And that is that God hates the sin (as we have all sinned & no sin is greater than another), but loves the sinner. All I can do is teach the love of Christ, share His gospel with those that are lost or fallen and pray for those that I come in contact with on a daily basis. As a footnote, I cannot wrap my head around the whole dinosaur debate. I guess that will be one of the things I ask God when I cross those pearly gates…

    • In total agreement with Robert:
      I am truly saddened by the blasphemous point of view of this article. The cartoon alone is a horrific mockery of Christ and the Bible.
      God’s Word is complete and perfect. It was not given to mankind as a cafeteria plan. What does quite suit your needs today? Is it the flood? The existence of angels? the 12 disciples? The immaculate conception? The existence of Jesus Christ? the prophets? Man does not know more than God. God is God and man is man. John Pavlovitz, you seem to have gotten this basic fact mixed up. To try to adapt His Word to fit one’s own definition of Truth is to comfort one’s self in the justification of one’s sin-to judge yourself according to your own standards rather than what God’s. God spelled it all out for us. So, if I’m not comfortable with what He has said, I need to change myself, NOT twist and warp His word to fit my needs! In the end, man’s opinion is nothing. When I stand before Him, how can I say, ” but, God, I disagree with what You had to say about Adam and Eve and that whole rib and snake story….it was just too out-there….I didn’t like that part about hell -You know, just very unpleasant- so I just decided You were wrong…I knew better; come on- get it together God!”? Why waste time writing articles such as this when you could spend your precious time and energy in The Word and in prayer? I do, however, agree with the point that one’s Christianity is no other human being’s jurisdiction. It between a person and the Lord. Belief in Christ, and the desire of your heart to transform yourself and follow Him is the bottom line. People are born in and live in their own skin. No one else resides in there with them. They will leave the same way. They will answer to God in the same way – one at a time, alone.

    • You are exactly the type of interfering asshole that he is talking about. The type of human being that belittles an other, drags that person down, questions that person’s faith, claims that person isn’t “really a Christian” all because you cannot force that person to conform to your personal beliefs which you think everyone has to hold to be a “real Christian”. Everyone has a different concept of God. It is no human being’s jurisdiction to control another person’s faith in God. If you can’t handle this guy’s opinion, let God worry about it. It’s not your concern.

    • Wow…and judgemental- know-it-alls like you, sir -are why I left the church after being raised within a pethora of pastors, etc in my family. Chistianity (your judgemental style ….control by judgement, hate, legalisim, and fear) was poured into my every waking moment..from every angle…. Anything in the bible that was contridictory in the bible or in practice was shoved aside….blind belief was the way…
      BUT…God gave us brains…I started to use mine…as the writer of the article is deciding to use his….God is big……everything…you sir, are in some kind of a man-made microcosim, making god very, very small and limited…..stretch your mind and grow…..god is bigger than you think…….

    • I am guessing that you are one of the people who are intolerant of anyone who only believes in one way no matter who your beliefs hurt and how many tangible objects provide to world is older than the Bible makes it seem.

    • And who made you the authority on this exactly? We know full well that there are parts of the bible that aren’t historical fact. There are stories that are meant to be taken metaphorically, not as actual events. It can be argued about which of these things are which, but what can’t be argued is that we have science now and we can prove that certain things are the way they are because of nature and physics and biology. To deny scientific fact because it doesn’t fit your biblical worldview is the ridiculous and false view.
      You can’t just believe things because the bible says so. Seeking the truth, if that really is important, requires an open mind and the willingness to question authority and find out the answer for yourself. Blind faith is the real deception here.

    • Robert, It is “Christians” like you that have caused so much death and destruction in the world over the years. I am convinced that your Church has done a great job of brainwashing you. But you don’t get to decide who is Christian and who is not. Or what any individuals spiritual path is. Oh, and BTW, Mary was not a Virgin.

  2. Totally agree, no-one knows the answer to creation, not science, not ideology, not anyone. Each of us might come to some conclusion about all of it but even then in our hearts we still question, although I know many who have convinced themselves they have answer but sadly this can’t be true. It is a belief, nothing more, nothing less. If it help those people to get through life then that’s okay so long as they don’t judge and condemn others who think differently.I beleive were created in some way, that there are other worlds, other times and so on, but I have to doubt a book that has been translated too many times and written by many hands, but I don’t tell others they must not believe it. Human choice, each individual has the right to choose

    • Choosing to be willfully ignorant of science, most Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals think (quite wrongly) that evolutionary biologists are united in a contention that the first life on Earth occurred by some presently unknown but wholly natural “first arisement” process in evolution. This is yet another lie that the fundies have bitten into deeply because it serves their devious purposes—one of which is painting most of the planet’s scientists as worthless apostates who oppose the one, only, and absolutely true Christian faith that exists exclusively down at the Possum Trot Baptist Church in Gravel Crossroads West Virginia. The truth of the matter is that scientists do not know and have not ever determined how the first life arose on Earth. “Evolution” does not posit that life arose on Earth without God. Evolution does not posit how life on Earth first arose at all. If a fundie preacher, homeschool textbook, or Christian school textbook states that evolution does this, then the authors of of those textbooks are lying to you—but of course—this would not be the first time that the fundies have been caught issuing a web of lies to defend a version of the Cristian faith that is basically defenseless when confronted with facts and reality.

      • God created science. He created all things. The Institute for Creation Research has great scientific information on many Biblical documentation. Most everyone in this conversation would benefit from taking a look at what it has to say. It’s fascinating.

  3. John, you have a way of getting to the nitty-gritty of anything you write. Thank you for elaining things in a way that is simple and direct. It gives me erectives to discuss these issues with others.

    I have some very interesting conversations with a fundamentalist friend as we discuss these very issues. Neither of us tries to convert the other, we just explain what we believe and discuss it from our different viewpoints. Keep on writing!

  4. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
    Revelation 22:18-21 NKJV
    http://bible.com/114/rev.22.18-21.NKJV. Jesus loves you all.

  5. I’m done with you. Not because I usually disagree with you (although I do), but because you are leading people on the pathway to Hell. Sin is real and Jesus is the only means of salvation. All of the Bible is true or none of it is true. If you think that makes me narrow-minded, so be it. I believe in the true Jesus, the redeemer. I hope that you see the light at some point, John. If not, there’s a special place in Hell for those that lead others astray.

    • Thanks for the sweet threat of eternal damnation in response to my sincere efforts to share my personal faith perspective.

      Your response is exactly the mindset and tactic which inspired me to write this piece in the first place.

      Be well.

      • That response is also why it’s important you keep doing so.

        Incidentally, speaking as one of the Hellbound heathens Tracy has so blithely threatened with grotesque and unspeakable violence on behalf of zir invisible school-yard bully friend, I can absolutely promise that you have done not one negative thing to influence the conclusions I’ve drawn about Christianity. It’s not sensible to imagine otherwise, and I can’t imagine anyone sensible saying anything different.

        I wonder if it’d horrify Tracy worse if someone like me adopted your brand of Christianity or no form of it at all. #noidontwonder (BTW I’m floating around tonight because I saw your tortillas graphic AND IT IS AWESOME MAN)

      • First of all, thank you for this post. Tracy’s comments remind me of how freeing it has been to realize that I am not personally responsible for the eternal destiny of any other human being. Even if you were to say flat-our lies, your audience has the ability and the responsibility to evaluate your comments for themselves, and to behave accordingly. Even if there’s a hell and you are completely wrong, you’re not sending anyone there. People can make up their own minds.

    • Tracy. If I were to give you a map of the world and ask you to point to the location where the extinct nation called Republique Inhambane was located before it became extinct, could you do it without looking it up on Google? As far as I am concerned, if you cannot do that, then it is impossible for me to believe anything that you might ever tell me for the rest of my your life. Instead of spouting cliche aphorisms from a fat-bellied fundie preacher, maybe you should take a closer look at what you believe. John never said any of those things.

      • There probably won’t be much peace for those who assume there is no hell when the Bible has made it so abundantly clear that there is and that blasphemy and the spreading of false teaching is a surefire path to that place of eternal separation from God.

    • >All of the Bible is true or none of it is true.

      Well, you’re pretty screwed then, as the Bible is full of so much contradiction and flat-out allegory mistaken for literalism, that the only logical conclusion of your statement is the latter half.

      So, since you’ve declared none of the Bible is true, by that logic… whatcha gonna do now?

    • U sound very angry. Everybody has the right for there opinion but only god has the right to send someone to Hell. Not you!!! For even saying that is either evil or non intelligent. U pick cuz I ain’t The judge.

    • Please look into the real history of Jesus by any of the writers who lived in that region at that time. To say you won’t find much is an understatement. The Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are neither historical nor are they about the history of their respective times. They’re allegories about the mind. Few of the gospels were written by those to whom they are attributed. They were stories passed from one new believer to the next for a few centuries, then preserved in writing much later, and are chock full of inconsistencies, contradictions, and outright fabrication. There’s more “PROOF” that Constantine likely added the line in The Revelation about adding/subtracting to that book and the penalties for doing so than there is proof that Jesus existed. That’s why Christians must ‘believe’. The best researchers conclude that a man named Yoshua likely existed and had a following of doomsday believers and political zealots, but apart from the New Testament, there’s virtually no evidence available that PROVES the modern account of the man/god we call Jesus. The Scriptures are allegorical stories about the nature of reality and how to function in an earthly realm, this holographic illusion (a very important and useful illusion) of a physical world. The Bible, so-called, is what’s left after the Universal/Catholic church banned and removed some of the most powerfully relevant “Christian” epistles ever written by early church authors and then proceeded to wipe out everyone who held any belief not aligned with the official, political construction that became our modern Bible. The scientists of that era were tortured and killed as heretics by the clergy and the legal system (sounds similar to Sharia law and Islam today, huh?). Thus began the Dark Ages. Not until the Renaissance did anyone begin to see a glimmer of light enter into religious though. (You cannot extinguish Truth.) Yes, there’s an enormous amount of value to be found within the Bible, but the power endowed to humanity has been hidden from us by Religion (every religion) for 2,000 years and the result has been chaos, confusion, and endless war. Christianity is merely another religion. Jesus didn’t practice Christianity; only Christians do that. The Scriptures are all about the mind and our ability to overcome the ego and view reality in alignment with one another in Truth, Joy, and Peace. God is Love and Light. The Kingdom is Now! Jump in and leave all religions in the dust. Better than ‘believing’ what you’re told, you can actually KNOW the Truth. And it WILL make you free!

    • There’s a special place in hell for Republicans as well. There is no vile actions than those of the greedy and the hypocrites. Unfortunately that’s the face of the modern conservatives. They try to take away the rights of others because they think it’s immoral. The sick fact is that those most vocal about “family values” (conservative republicans) are the same people who are over and over again caught being child molesters and the ones who speak out against homosexuality are usually guilty of the same. People who think that every word of the bible is a historical record written by God, are quite simply, wrong. It’s not that you’re wrong because of opposing facts, it’s that being closed minded in any case is wrong because nothing as complex as human belief and the history of man and earth is black and white, nor will we ever answer all of life’s questions, through faith or science. At least science has the tendency to be open minded and is by its definition always going to change as new evidence becomes available. To say that a 2000 year old book has the definitive answers to both past and future is absurd.

  6. This post wouldn’t upload to me when the one before it just did (By the way, conclusions I’ve comed to myself) just now. Have other people been complaining

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  7. You’re a heretic.
    I don’t care how sincere you are, or how many times you say you’re all about love,
    You are a heretic.
    You are doing harm.
    You are leading people who are weak in their faith- who have not been rooted and grounded in sound doctrine- atray into not just “false teachings”, but out right, straight from Satan (who does exist), LIES.
    Please, please, please, STOP.
    Struggle through the tennants of your faith if you will- if that has to be your journey, so be it- but please, keep silent while you do.
    Please, stop writing.
    Please, stop putting this out there with an authoritative tone, a teacher’s approach, while you tote the title “pastor”.
    You aren’t just doing “wrong”.
    You are doing damage to the church, the part of the church that doesn’t yet know better, the church that has had the misfortune of stumbling upon you and your forsaking of truth.
    You have not love when it’s based on lies.
    You are not helping by leading others down this road.
    You are hurting people, and you should stop.
    It’s OK to question. It’s OK to doubt.
    It’s not OK to teach your questioning doubts as if they are truth.
    As for me, I’m going to stop reading your stuff.
    You aren’t actually struggling, questioning, or doubting too much anymore. You have embraced your doubts and error and are teaching them as truth.
    From false teachers of damnable heresies we are told to *turn away*.
    I’m not going to follow you, and I’m not going to listen to you anymore- I’m turning away. This is the last time I’ll bother you here.
    I leave you in peace, and will go my way praying that those who are true, young believers in Christ will not find you or your teachings while you are in this place, that the lover of their souls will lovingly keep them from you, and that those who have been lead down a wrong road by you will be lead back and away from you<– that is one of the ways God keeps people from leading His church astray. I will, sincerely, pray that God restores you, if you were ever His to begin with, though you're far enough down the wrong road that I think the way back will be hard, and I'm sorry for you in that.

    • Ren. Look at yourself. Can you honestly say that the rebellious, strung out, nitwit little druggie you once were somehow ended up with the right version of the Christian faith when she was incapable of otherwise coming up with even the smallest right thing in any other area of her life. You have chosen yet another road that will lead you to tragedy. I am so sorry. It just seems like some people are natural born losers—like your spelling teacher.

      • “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

        10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

        11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
        John do you see this. The loadest voice against my comments and for your defense? Do you see the lack true love here? Do you see the doubt of the life saving truth that the true gospel of the true Christ? This is your follower. This is who comes to your defence.
        This is your fruit.
        Please, get back to the truth.

      • Ren. I am not John’s follower per se. I am a follower of Jesus who cannot easily countenance the evil and hurt that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism regularly bring into this world, evil and hurt that may be easily witnessed just about anywhere these days. In my honest opinion, these religious traditions believe that “sin, repent, saved” is 100 percent of the Christian faith when in reality it is maybe 5 percent—an important 5 percent—but still only 5 percent—and then they just give passing lip service to the other 95 percent or toss it into the garbage can rather than taking that 95 percent seriously, think about it in depth, and then try to actually live it out day-to-day. But of course, if your whole mind and all of your time is focused on self-sanctification and achieving personal purity (a task that no man can achieve by his own efforts), then you will never have time to do that other 95 percent of the Christian faith because you will be so focused on your SELF that you have no time for doing the things in this life that Jesus would most like to see you doing.

        I hope you have court evidence and two witnesses to support the many Biblical sin charges you have placed against me below. The fornication would be news to my wife of 37 years on whom I have never cheated by adultery or fornication even one time. The other items you listed would also be just as hard to sell to people who know me, including the members of my own family. I guess the closest sin might be the “reviler,” but I would prefer the term “rebuker.” Of course, the fact of the matter is that I am all of those things you listed and much more—because all humans are—including you. You just like to pretend that you have “fully arrived” and that you live wholly outside the circle of sin. If you do, then your name must be Jesus rather than Ren.

        However, I know what really has you so upset. You know that I am right. Go read the gospel of John and the Book of Galatians. Your so-called “True” Christian faith is only a very small part of the actual Christian faith, and you are in denial about trashing the other 95 percent of the faith—along with the people down at whichever fundie church you attend. And if you attend an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church, you might as well be hooked up with the so-called “Christian” equivalent of your teenage drug dealer—and you will pay dearly for it in time.

      • That’s the best kind. Saved from sin. She must really have a witness and a testimony for how Christ turned her life around. I LOVE how she isn’t afraid to call out a heretic.
        What’s your story, dover1952? Were you born perfect or did you just grow into it? I suppose you had to take a class on insulting others in your pursuit of perfection. Lol! Hang in there. Keep working on it!

    • Heretic: “a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted” (google search found this one)

      I would say this is a compliment and suspect that at some point in time the views you hold were considered heretical. You may want to define what you mean and given heretics were traditionally put to death, you may want to consider what you mean when you call someone a heretic.

      It is sad that you seek to condemn John for not agreeing with your views (because you solely hold the truth), likely because his journey threatens you in some way. But John is not alone as is evident from the responses here. Those who agree with him are not a bunch of mindless husks waiting for direction in what to believe. I held many of these beliefs before I even found his blog and rejoice that I am not alone. He is leading no one down a path to damnation, he is presenting a more loving and accepting understanding of God…one that includes all people and does not focus on the things we all do wrong, but focuses on our potential to do right. I can only pray that at some point you come to understand his message. Peace.

    • LOL. I’m pretty sure Jesus was considered a heretic as well… After all, he certainly rebelled against commonly accepted thought and belief of his time. While I don’t think John is on the same footing as Jesus Christ, I certainly think, unlike many other so-called Christians, he is actually trying.

  8. Thank you so much for this. I’m in the process of leaving the church I’ve loved and faithfully served in for 13 years. I started asking too many questions and noticing too many contradictions and got tired of the politics and homophobia and anti-science views and threw out the doctrine of hell (after careful and considered research). I still believe in Jesus but I’m definitely not “in” anymore.

    • Hey! Welcome to the open “church” that has no doors, no agendas, no prejudiced pastors ranting junk, no confinement, but the freedom of the universe that our wonderful Creator made. Explore, enjoy, grow to love it all and Him so much more than you ever could in the confines of the narrow coffin of church.

  9. John Said: “Friends, despite what you may have experienced or been led to believe, Christianity is massive and wildly diverse and uncontainable, if it accurately refers to a God who is certainly all those things. Your Christianity is no other human being’s jurisdiction.”

    Hi John. I agree with maybe 90 percent of your post. But heck, who on this planet agrees with two other people on any subject?

    You left out the fact that the worldwide flood in the “Noah and the Ark” story never happened. God knew that we would figure that out eventually. The story did not have to be actual history because the story itself puts across the important things that God wanted to tell us in that story. For the people of our day and time, He wants to know what we will do with this story when we find out that it is not actual history. Will some people get angry and physically or socially persecute or kill those who finally realize it is not history. Will the people who know it is not history physically or socially persecute those who believe it is actual history? Will some people be so stupid and full of spiritual pride that they blind themselves by denying facts and cling to ignorance when the plain truth evidence it never happened is right under their noses? Will some people fail God by refusing to believe that the story of Noah and the Ark is actual history, meaning that one day God will say to them: “Of course the story of Noah and the Ark is not actual history!!! It never happened!!! I just wanted you to believe it really did happen to see if you would follow what I say blindly and resolutely in spite of the facts. You failed.”

    Finally, there is the possibility that everything we see around us is a piece of software that was programmed by God about 6,000 years ago, and “all of this playing out and unfolding of life here on Earth and in the stars” is merely a highly advanced computer program with artificial intelligence and adaptability characteristics—a program which has been infused with lies, falsehoods, and deceptions designed to make the people in the playing program think the world is billions of years old when it is really not. On that point, I agree with fellow Christian scientist Ken Miller. I do not believe in a God who would command us not to tell lies and do lies when God’s whole “Earth Program” is one huge God-told lie. I choose to think God is better, wiser, and more full of integrity than that.

    So, what do I personally believe many of the stories in Genesis are. I believe they are God-inspired parables—made up stories that never actually happened that were designed to teach us important spiritual lessons that God wanted us to learn. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are more than willing to accept the parables told by Jesus in the New Testament. They are even willing to accept that these New Testament parables are his favorite way of teaching. However, they turn right around and absolutely forbid God to tell a parable in the Old Testament. This is really bizarre, but fundies will ford any river, swim any lake, and climb any mountain to find any excuse they can ( no matter how silly) to deny facts and cling to ignorance—hoisting it up on their flagpole as a virtue.

    One of the stupidest arguments fundies make is the argument that “The Story of Adam and Eve” in the Bible has to be real history that actually happened. “If that story is not true history, then there was no event called “the fall of man.” If “the fall of man” did not actually happen as history stated in Genesis, then their was no original sin—and Jesus Christ died for nothing because there was nothing to save
    us from. Therefore, you cannot be a Christian if you do not believe that “The Story of Adam and Eve” was actual history.”

    Good try—but blatantly false. Here is why. If “The story of Adam and Eve” is a parable that never happened as such, the parable ITSELF (just as all of the parables Jesus told) gets that “human fall” message across anyway. All human beings, somewhere on our evolutionary chain, acquired a major flaw in their makeup—a flaw that is in our souls and maybe even in our genes—a propensity to do wrong things that the Bible calls “sin.” The parable goes on to further indicate what this baseline flaw is. At some point along our evolutionary chain, man acquired an awareness of God, saw how much man is like God, and decided that man should BE GOD instead of being just a man who acknowledges humbly in thought and action that he is not God. There’s your fall, and every bit of it is right there in the parable, regardless of any so-called “history.” Furthermore, Jesus in the New Testament tells us essentially the same message in a variety of ways and in a variety of places. We humans are deeply flawed, sinful, and unable to save ourselves from our flaws and the consequences of our flaws. We need his help to change us and reorient us into a more highly evolved spiritual being—if our free will and hearts submit to doing things his way. Mine does. Jesus alone, saying this in the New Testament, is good enough for me—even if the entire Book of Genesis had never existed. I get the message straight from Jesus—and I see that message in my own deeply flawed self and in all of the people I have ever known.

    And then the fundies say: “No!!! No!!! No!!! You have to believe every word in the Bible is simple, literal truth. If even one word in “The Story of Adam and Eve” is not actual historical fact, then the whole rest of the Bible cannot be believed and must be discarded.” All I can say to you my friend is that you are a very untalented person who makes no sense. This is like saying that if a reporter on FOX News gets even one little fact wrong, then nothing else that is said on FOX News—ever again—can be believed. It is like saying, “My daddy said he knew where Iowa is located on my map, but he pointed to New Mexico instead. I will never again be able to believe anything that my dad tells me. He is incompetent, and I am running away from home.” This is just plain silly. The Book of Genesis has no notation, anywhere in the text, that says: “Stop—this text is real history and real science.” Fallible human beings just “wrongly assumed” it was actual history and passed the fallacy on from generation to generation down to the day when science would look at God’s handy work in detail, as written in the Earth, and show us clearly that these ancient parables are not science and history. That was God’s later revelation to us (1840s to now) because God knew that we were ready to put away the things of our ancient spiritual childhood and eat the solid food of factual truth—and understand it.

    Then the fundies say: “Well, look here in the New Testament, Jesus talks to people about Adam and Eve as if they were real people.” Of course He does—but it is not because Adam and Eve were real people. He knew that the people were assuming (wrongly) that Adam and Eve were real people in their milk pup spiritual condition as ancient and still primitive people. He was also a Jew talking to his fellow Jews. If He had told them that Adam and Eve were not real people, they would have run him out of town on a rail—because false human assumptions die hard. Jesus knew that, so he just played along with their ignorance to make his point—just like parents do with their own children today when they say, “What time do you think Santa Clause will arrive at our house tonight?”

    • Dover, I don’t believe many of the things you may have stated, but I also never thought of them from those angles before so after I sit on the ideas…well, who knows? Regardless, thank you for the excellent and thought provoking post. It gave me a nice mental workout this morning.

    • Dover, I don’t believe a number of the things you mentioned here, but I also have never thought of them from these angles before, so after I ponder the ideas a while…who knows? Regardless, thank you for the excellent, thought-provoking post. It was a nice mental exercise for me this morning.

  10. This is a very good message and with that, I would encourage you to read the Urantia Book because a thousand years from now, it will be an extension of all religions but it is not to be turned into a religion. It is knowledge. Based on what you have been writing, it will open your eyes and give your life new meaning.

  11. This is so liberating, John! Reducing God to fundamentalist ideals makes sense to those who are afraid, those who need black and white rules to live by, those who are afraid of God. God is a Relationship, and we are crated in Love. There is nothing that can separate us from that Love except a closed, unresponsive heart. We ARE LOVED. It has been done! There is nothing more to be done except to receive this Love, and in doing so, we are forever being transformed by Its Life-giving power.

    To spend time only learning rules and regulations reduces God to some game formula for a game that one can only win if the formula is figured out correctly. And God is not a genie that we need to learn how to manipulate in order to get what we want.

    Spiritual calisthenics are not needed. We are already LOVED by the One Who knows there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it, for we are broken, and in His arms we find healing wholeness.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart, where the Truth resides! You are brave! Whoever thought we would have to defend ourselves against other Christians!

    Blessings on you and those you love!

  12. You said much but one thing I don’t agree with is that after all your knowledge you don’t believe you can know the truth Jesus said ” I am the truth ” if you know him you are free from all your unbelief you just have to seek the kingdom of God and all things should be cleared added on to you . God bless you
    JC

      • <>

        Curious. How do you follow Jesus if you are not even sure of who he is? Who are you following? How can you love someone deeply and not really know who they are? What is it you love? How can you follow the ways of someone when you are not even sure about what they are or if you really even believe in them? This is far more than just ‘struggling’ with unbelief…

      • Not at all Lissa. Have you ever fallen in love? I mean really, really, really fallen in love? I would bet you my last dime that if that person you fell in love with had never identified himself in typical terms such as name, address, phone number, occupation, income, house style, etc.—spending time with him alone would have still caused you to fall in love with him. That is really all John Pavlovitz is saying. Like the Disciple John in the New Testament (often referred to as the disciple who loved Jesus), John Pavlovitz has fallen in love with Jesus because he really loves the Jesus who presents himself to mankind in the New Testament. I fell in love with this Jesus too a long time ago, maybe without even realizing at first that I had, when I was in the 5th grade and committed myself to reading one page in the Bible every day.

        If you are familiar with the history of the ancient church, one of the things that clearly comes out of it is the fact that people (Christians) in the first couple of centuries after the resurrection, throughout the Mediterranean world, were grappling with two major questions in their daily lives, and it shows up in the nonBible writings of the time:

        1) Who was this person called Jesus of Nazareth?

        2) What did the Jesus ministry and events mean in truth—I need to understand?

        Those were the two big questions people were grappling with—and people who one might define as “religious searchers” are still grappling today. The following website and the videos on the tab at the top of the page will give you a deep look into that “grappling” that the ancient peoples were doing:

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/

        All john Pavlovitz is saying is that he is still grappling with assorted spiritual issues just as these ancient Christians did long ago. In the realm of faith, I believe all people grapple with one thing or another—perhaps many things—throughout their lives. We are dealing with “faith” here and faith always entails questions because “faith” is not “knowing.”

        Does that make any sense?

        • ok. That’s a little better. I understand more what you are saying now. I hope that’s really what John meant to say. But, while he’s saying it, does he really have to try to invalidate the Bible?

      • There is much mystery to God. That’s because He is God and we are man. But, just because we can’t explain it does not make it invalid. The idea is faith. Step out there on faith. We don’t have to have it all explained so our little brains can wrap around it. We just don’t need to be wrapping it around and warping it into what we CAN understand.

  13. Bible is written in allegorical form and you have interpreted it literally. Read ‘Jainism Christianity and Science’ (free download from archive) by Champat Rai Jain

    • NO. Read the Holy Bible. Cross-reference it with the Holy Bible. Do your homework. Put a little effort into what it is really saying instead of finding other human opinions about its validity. Pray while you are doing it for the Holy Spirit to guide you. There are places in the Bible where it clearly states that it is a parable. The other places are not. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but the Bible is NOT an allegorical form.

  14. I don’t question that dinasaurs existed, that humans evolved over millions of years, that there was a Big Bang, that Science unravels truth about our world and our universe and that there are parts of the Bible that make no sense in relation to other parts. I believe with every ounce of my being that every person is valuable and deserves equal respect in society whether they are straight or gay, female or male, young or old, rich or poor, white or black or asian, or whatever. Whether you are Christian, or Hindu or Muslim or any other religion there could possibly be, you are fundamentally the same as every other person on this planet. Deserving of the same love, the right to food and water and health care and education, and the opportunities to live a full and satisfying life without fear.

    I do question whether there is a God. And I question whether He is nice or vendictive and angry. And sometimes I do wonder, ‘what if the fundamentalist are right’, what if God is more about the rules and that He has every intent on condeming more than 3/4’s of all the people who have ever existed to burn for eternity in a firiery Hell. And I have come to realize, that if that is the type of God that exists, then I will certainly burn in Hell because it is easier for me not to believe in such a God than to change what I believe to be true about how all people should be treated. I choose to believe that God wishes the best for all people, and shows compassion when we do wrong and cause suffering (both to ourselves and to others) and that He is less concerned with rules and more concerned with hearts. And what of the chance that I am wrong? I would rather stand before God and explain why I loved someone He hated than explain why I hated someone He loved. And if I have to spend an eternity being tortured in Hell because of that, then I guess that is what will happen. So I will continue to try to emulate the life of Jesus (as unsuccessfully as I am able to do so) and hope that if there really is a God, that he is more about love because, in truth, as poorly as I do this, I can’t do it any other way.

    • Wendy Cameron said: “And sometimes I do wonder, ‘what if the fundamentalist are right’, what if God is more about the rules and that He has every intent on condeming more than 3/4’s of all the people who have ever existed to burn for eternity in a firiery Hell.”

      My Christian fundamentalist uncle, who was on of the most devout people I have ever known, considered this question prior to his death and concluded the following:

      “If there truly is a God and He is really like that in his personality and behavior, then He is mentally deranged and is worse than even the worst criminal we have ever known on Earth—and whether we are saved or not saved—none of us will ever have any chance of true happiness—only suffering forever in both Heaven and Hell.”

      I choose to believe that God is like Jesus—and that the Old Testament Jews were in many ways wrong about the nature and character of God. If you really think about it, the Old Testament Jews who wrote the books in the Bible had a very primitive, “man of my own time” view of God that was not that much different from those of the pagans who lived in the towns and empires around them:

      The deity is capricious.

      The deity is always angry.

      The deity is arbitrary.

      The deity believes might alone makes “right.”

      The deity directly causes all of the truly bad things that happen in this world.

      The deity will exempt you from evil acts if you “suck up” to him in a prescribed way

      etc.

      After seeing Jesus walk the Earth, say the things He said, and do the things He did, surely we can conclude that the Old Testament gives God a bad name and that one of the goals of the Jesus ministry was to right this error of the Old Testament writers through the Jesus demeanor, sayings, and doings. My favorite Southern Baptist pastor used to teach this in his sermons, and I think he was right. As the first few words in the Book of Hebrews says—God is like Jesus.

      • Thanks and yes, I choose to believe that God is like Jesus. I believe that Jesus shows us the true nature of God and the path that God would have us follow. When I hear the more legalist view it causes me to despair since it is a world view I cannot hold to and one that drives me away from God….I would abandon any attempt to follow such a God.

        There are just so many views of the nature of God and ‘instructions’ on how God wants us to be. I expect none of them are entirely accurate and that we are all searching for the closest approximation of God that we can find. I just hope that the one that draws me is one that, even in some small measure, reflects God’s true nature…

        • Jesus and God the Father are One and the Same. I know! So hard to understand. Oh, and add the Holy Spirit in there as well. Trinity. Oh, Magnum Mysterium
          Mystery beyond our human comprehension.

      • Do you believe that Jesus IS God. Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior? Do you believe we NEED a Savior? Did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Or was he a human prophet and/or teacher who died and his soul (if there is such a thing) went to heaven (if there is such a place)?

      • Actually Wendy. With regard to you personally, Jesus is not interested in what Jerry Falwell, Paige Patterson, John Pavlovitz, or I think He is. With regard to you, He would like to know your exclusive and personal answer to his age old question—however you might decide to grapple your way towards answering it:

        13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
        14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
        15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

        Grapple.

      • Dedo. If you are asking me what I believe, I am not ashamed to tell the whole world right here:

        1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. However, HOW He created it was his own business—and however He did it is fine by me. The best evidence from science indicates that He did his creation across billions of Earth years rather than in six literal 24-hour Earth days and that the process of creation is still unfolding.

        2) I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord (and mine too), who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

        3) I believe Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. However, the Old Testament does not prophecy that the Messiah’s birth will be a virgin birth. It only says that a woman will conceive. Whatever the Holy Spirit does with a vagina and a uterus is none of my business. If she was a virgin, that is fine by me. If that was the case, I support that.

        4) I believe Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He also suffered under the Jewish Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, etc. who kidnapped him and turned him over to Pontius Pilate. All of them did so while operating with the same unChrist-like Matthew 23 mindset that current day Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals operate with today.

        5) I believe Jesus descended to the dead, if that is indeed what He did. The Universal Church worldwide has argued for many centuries about exactly where Jesus went and what He was doing or not doing during his three days of human death. Whatever He actually did or was doing, I submit and bow to the truth of whatever that actually was.

        6) I believe on the third day Jesus rose again; He ascended into heaven, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father. However, I suspect his Dad allows him to get up every once in a while to stretch his legs, go take a swim in the pool, and maybe take in dinner and a good movie or a University of Tennessee football game.

        7) I believe Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. However, I do not know how that process will be conducted or what the assorted outcomes will be—and neither do you. My suspicion is that it will be filled with love and a lot of surprises.

        8) I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Universal Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins (by repentance and grace alone), the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

      • Thanks Dover, really appreciate your response about who ‘I’ think Jesus is. I guess I never looked at the question in that manner or considered that Jesus/God would actually care what I think about it. But what you say makes perfect sense. Guess my grappling will continue. 🙂

  15. Thank u for speaking my mind,. in my area dogma and ” boxing” of faith is the way to go,,, thank u to remind me that I can still belong 🙂

    • You can love Jesus in spite of your so-called Christian neighbors. Forget about them and just do it. You have no responsibility to them except to love them. Focus on Jesus, his demeanor with people, his sayings, and his doings—and life will be better. And yes, the sin, repentance, and salvation part is important too—but it is only a portion of the whole Christian watermelon.

    • It’s never too late! People like us exist! 😀 Also, I have found that over the years my own beliefs have evolved and changed. I never really “fit in” with the super conservative christians I grew up with – and yet, I found my way, developed my own ideas, thoughts and beliefs, and though it was exceedingly difficult at times, learned that my faith had nothing to do with people and what they thought of me, but the fact that Jesus loved me regardless of whether or not anyone else did.

      Have a rockin’ day!

  16. John
    I have come to respect what you write. But I do have a question. As a Pastor and since you just described what it is ok to believe in and not to believe in. What is your defintion of a Christian? There have to be some absolutes or Paul and the other apostles went thru a lot for no reason.

    • The absolute to call oneself a Christian (a follower of Jesus) is Jesus. I see a Christian more as someone who follows Christ and seeks to express their relationship with him through their lives. Today we’ve made being a Christian about a walk down the aisle and a prayer, and honestly not much else. While I have had a gradual shift in some things, I can’t shake Jesus. I find wisdom, challenge and comfort in his words, I pray to him, and when I picture the face of God, I see his. If there are other absolutes which he desires me to know or have, I trust he will make those clear.

      • That’s a great answer. And the reason Paul and the others suffered as they did. You have a lot of detractors. Some have said you take Jesus out of the equation. I did not believe them. No one could have your heart without knowing Jesus. I am really glad they are wrong. If you’re ever in Philly get in touch I’ll buy you a cheese steak.

      • I don’t want to start a fight I don’t want to be rude. I want to know how you can assert that you can’t shake Jesus but can potentially deny many things that are just simply spelled out in the bible. Im confused and to be honest I don’t trust you, but I want to engage. I want to figure out how you think the way you do. Im sure I’m not the first but if you would consider, an email thread, or even some sort of message board I would really appreciate it. I want to know about what hurt you in church to think it needs to be rebuilt backwards, or what in the bible led you to believe we shouldn’t tell other christians when they are living in sin. The reality Is my questions will take up days and weeks of your time. I understand if that isn’t important to you to spend a few minuets a week replying to an email of mine. I’m not looking for you to teach me your beliefs, I try to not get mine from people. Im looking to engage with someone who Im scared is a wolf and believes he is a shepherd. I read your responses to messages which are from a place of hate and you respond with kindness which is why I hope you might be open to this. Its not from a place of hate or scorn or even pride, simply a place of I feel called to not fade into a crowed of yellers or supporters, but to engage in relationship with people who appear against me. I feel this calling because thats what my savior did. Shoot me an email if your interested.

  17. And upon what do you base your “truth”? How is anyone to know if any of your statements or assertions are true? What is the measuring stick by which you know truth? How do you determine what is true and what is not in the Bible? For that matter, how do you determine if anything is truth?

    • I base my Truth on the same things we all do: Reason, community, Scripture, relationships, prayer, experience, seeking the wisest way. I just don’t believe the Bible is the inly place Truth is found, nor do I believe everything in there can be objectively deciphered and will always be up to interpretation. The Bible is a toll, but it is the only one.

    • Jesus and the action of his Holy Spirit in our lives. The greatest lie ever told by Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals is that God speaks to man through the words of the Bible ONLY and the sole purpose of the Holy Spirit on this Earth is to interpret the words of the Bible correctly in the mind and heart of the reader.

      Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism give lip service to the Holy Spirit, but they deny his total scope and power in this world—and in doing so—deny HIM.

  18. Here’s an unorthodoxed response for you. Two main points. 1) Don’t trust so much in science and 2) the devil is most certainly real. While I could easily not argue with your theology (which is to give you some context of my own) we have to be cautious as to not allow science to become too powerful in our own beliefs. I can imagine how Christians would not want to side with young-earthers because they seem ignorant and uninformed. However, the reality of a young earth is really no more preposterous than millions or billions of years and pure science beliefs.

    The fundamental questions remain constant. How did we get here and what is our purpose? The big bang and science is just as fruity and far fetched as the the creation story. I choose the creation story. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for not, but I am educated and not afraid to believe in God. If he exists than anything is possible. As for a world wide flood and dinosaurs, both are explainable scientifically in both stories. Evolving from primordial soup seems more outlandish to me. The power and influence of contemporary beliefs can cause us to build walls that disallow pure nonsense by its definition, but much of what we know is limited and will only be disproved later by more intelligent discoveries. Regardless, nothing will ever tell us with certainty how we got here.

    As for the devil, just as you implied or even said that Adam and Eve are not actual people, the devil may be of the same definition. However an evil and dark force exists in the world and it’s as obvious as God and his creation is. The bible gives as good an explanation as I know of, but the only way to get out of the clutches of this dark force, is Jesus so far as I have experienced. It’s also, not a one time event in my experience. It’s a continuous process of return to Him. While I don’t think the devil has an real power in the grand scheme, he can sure make things miserable in the day to day…or even you while life on earth.

    I like the spirit of what you are saying though. Christians are not perfect or people doing everything right. They should be a lost and broken flock of sheep headed off a cliff. There is however a shepherd that we are dependent on to bring us round time and time again. We need dependence on Jesus…then we are Christian.

    • You seem very confused. You say you don’t trust science (“However, the reality of a young earth is really no more preposterous than millions or billions of years and pure science beliefs.”), but then appeal to science when you think it might back YOUR beliefs (“As for a world wide flood and dinosaurs, both are explainable scientifically in both stories.”)

      So which one is it?

      The fact is that modern science is based upon the concept of testing theories, examining all the possibilities, and reliable repetition of results. If a theory, or some part of a theory is found to be incorrect, then that portion is thrown out or modified, the papers re-written, corrections made, and the new ideas likewise tested.

      The Bible, on the other hand, is based on “it says so, don’t question it”. When something comes in conflict with an interpretation of the Bible, the fundamental answer is always “well that’s wrong, and the work of Satan”. There’s no room for “not every single concept ever was described in the bible”. There’s no room for “oh, that story might be allegory, and not literal”.

      The fact is, that science is much less “fruity and far fetched” as you seem to think. Just because YOU don’t understand something doesn’t make it far-fetched. Quantum interactions made very little sense in comparison to the macro world we live in, and my head spins reading some of the papers describing the latest discoveries. But that doesn’t make it far-fetched. It means I lack the years of education and experience that those physicists have behind them. That’s all. It doesn’t make their statements less true.

      I weep for the science-deniers. There is a manufactured war between science and faith, and it doesn’t need to happen. In the end, faith will always lose, because it relies on the ephemerality of blind acceptance of the unseen. Science can prove what it says, empirically.

      Science is not perfect, and it’s not a replacement for faith. But neither should faith be a replacement for science, or facts, or common sense. They are not mutually exclusive, unless you choose to consider them as such.

      As for myself? My God is not so small that he is destroyed by science, or a trust in science. He is made more visible and more amazing through the understanding of the fundamental nature and composition of the Universe He designed and created. How fascinating!

      • Science is a great tool. Before you place much faith in its truth value, however, please read David Hume, Karl Polyani and Thomas S. Kuhn.

        I am something of a Scientific Agnostic: I believe that the material world exists but we can’t really know much about it.

        Sorry to be responding to such an old post but i just discovered this web-site.

    • There is a theory called “theistic evolution” that you may find intriguing. I (obviously) don’t know how the earth was formed. I am educated, but science is not my major, and I only dabble in the theories of where we came from as a hobby… also, I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t possible know! 🙂 However, I tend to be curious if the most accurate theory of creation may meet somewhere in the middle…. So, I fall in the camp of people who (for now anyway) believe that God set to motion the laws of evolution. Therefore, we didn’t necessarily come from primordial soup, there wasn’t necessarily a big bang, and yet – all the evidence that points towards evolution ends up agreeing with the idea of intelligent design. Anyway, just something that might be of interest to you. I might be totally off base, but it’s definitely an interesting theory!

    • Jay, I’m not sure what you consider to be science, but saying not to trust science is the most ignorant thing you could imagine. Science, by definition is truth. That doesn’t mean that all scientific theories are fact, in the same way not all the theology is correct, but to say one should not trust science shows a fundamental lack of knowledge. Science is about using our minds to ask questions, to form a hypotheses, and then come up with an experiment or set of equations that either proves or disproves said theory. The whole point of science is that it doesn’t require faith – I don’t have to take someone at their word if they have an idea or theory – I can run my own experiment or do my own math to verify the answer. In that respect – science is the ultimate truth. That doesn’t mean faith or spirituality aren’t valid, it simply means that we can answer a lot of questions that were previously only attributed to an omnipresent God. We can still attribute creation and whatever else we want to god but we now know because of science the answer to many questions and we can continue to learn as science and technology progress. To cast science in a negative light or to say it exists only to disprove God is both narrow minded and false. In light of what we have discovered about our universe through science, I would say religion is what needs to be re scrutinized.

  19. It just occurred to me—isn’t it ironic that we Christians fight over the words of a man whose goal was to help us live in peace with one another? Far be it from me to say that only one interpretation of Jesus’ words is possible, but as I recall it, he wanted us to get along. His first disciples included government employees and members of a Jewish sect that wanted to bring the government down. And somehow, they got past that first awkward dinner and managed to stick together. I think we can do the same.

    • Tell that to the fundies. Most of us out here agree that Christians are going to disagree on assorted things. I can live and let live on that stuff as long as they live and let live on me. However, the fundie community cries out to the entire Christian world:

      “God has given us fundies alone the real and true Christian faith. All the rest of you residents of Christendom are apostates hated by God. You are all evil, and we plan to take over the government so we can use its power to force you to believe everything we believe—exactly as we believe it—and force you to behave in exactly the ways that we dictate.”

      They are always careful to never mention the torture sessions and concentration camps with living skeletons that always come upon the Earth by the hands of people who think like fundies. ISIS is the Islamic version of Christian fundamentalism on steroids.

  20. I continue to be impressed by your observations, and appreciate that you put them into words. We are right there with you, after many years of knowing there was something wrong with what we were hearing. Thank you – and way to stay calm with all the “unhappy” readers!

  21. Very well said John. I’m always surprised when people adhere to the literal words in this 2,000 year old book. For me, it has boiled down to looking at the two commandments Jesus taught and looking how to best apply them in each situation – that is what it means to me to be seeking Christ Consciousness.

    Jesus has always been about LOVE and I have not been able to find one passage of him “speaking” in the bible where he condemned those around him, but instead, he always pointed them towards their “higher self.” Those who are quick to condemn those around them to damnation for not following “the rules” they prescribe seem to be placing a limit on God’s love…which, to me, seems counterproductive.

    The fact is that what we know to be true changes over time. Those in the 1800s would find cell phones impossible yet this “truth” no one would deny today (if you’re interested in reading more, take a look at this article I wrote..http://magicstoneteaching.com/thoughts-from-the-coach/absolute-truth).

    Only if we allow our understanding to evolve can we continue our journey towards Christ Consciousness…thank you for the reminder…

    • Where does the Bible teach about reaching one’s “higher self” or “Christ Consciousness” ? False teaching happening with this train of thought. Just make it up as you go along, buddy.

  22. I don’t think it is wrong to doubt. I even think it is important, because once we go through doubt it confirms even more what we believe in. However, I do believe there is a foolishness in the christian faith that we cannot escape. You sign up for that foolishness once you make Jesus Christ Lord of your life. It’s a foolishness that all (most) of the spiritual heroes in the Bible had. The type that kept Daniel alive in the Lion’s den. The type that kept Joseph hoping when he spent time in jail. etc. They foolishly believed in spite of… To me, what it means to be a Christ follower, means signing up for believing the only Word He left us – because that is all we have. To me the power of the Gospel lies in preaching Christ and Him crucified. A broken Healer who came for the broken and the hurt. I sense so much anger in your piece. Like you want people to celebrate the fact that you feel you cannot trust the Bible. I actually share some of the stuff you say, but you say it in such a way and also some stuff I cannot believe in that leaves me thinking, you want a God to fit into your box. I don’t have a problem that you question things, I have a problem that it sounds like you root your faith in your doubt, (or perhaps that you preach your doubt as truth) and not in the One who died on a cross to set us free. I know those so-called Bible believe christians you are talking about. They didn’t like me either, in fact, they openly looked down on me (still do) but precisely because they their God demanded perfection. The God you portray is like their God, only He is exactly the opposite. He allows everything and He doesn’t care if sin holds you back. That’s not love, that is laziness. (I’m speaking from experience here. If I’m lazy, i allow my kids to do much more than they technically should.) Maybe I misunderstood…? Anyway… those are my 2 cents! May God bless us in our journeys.

  23. Thank you.

    I hold a number of non-traditional/non-standard beliefs. I have come to believe over the years that the disagreements of all the things you mentioned in bullet points can be explained by Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. When listening to other’s views on the “Christian Measuring Stick,” I like to try to find their developmental stage. A lot of these details are very important for the lower stages of moral development. The rule is there and must be obeyed.

    Personally, I try to find the Universal Principle behind things (conveniently provided for us in Matthew 22:36-40). From this standpoint, “The Law” becomes a useful mirror to find your own sin, not to point it out in others; it allows room to love sinners in the midst of their mess; and (the place where I struggle) to extend mercy and grace to those who are so eager to condemn others to hell so they can think themselves better.

  24. John. I have never heard of any group, sect, or cult that claimed to be Christian who thinks dinosaurs never existed, as indicated in the title of your post. Some believe that dinosaurs were the “behemoth” mentioned in the Bible or the “dragons” mentioned in some ancient cultures around the world.

    Many Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe that the Earth cannot possibly be any older than 5,000 to 10,000 years and that dinosaurs were alive and roaming the Earth in large numbers at the same time as large populations of humans. Of course, this is complete nonsense because we would find clear evidence of that in the geological and archaeological record—and no—the human footprints and dinosaur footprints together at the same time in the volcanic ash notion was soundly refuted many years ago.

    Dinosaurs came in all kinds of sizes from species as small as chickens to species of medium size to the well-known giants. Right here in the United States, we have millions of archaeological sites left behind by Native Americans, and those sites go farther back in time than 10,000 years ago. We know that Native Americans used anything in their environment that was useful, and they would eat just about anything that was edible. During some periods of time, Native American populations were large, and there were pressures to find more food to keep people from starving. With all of those meaty, “chicken-sized” dinosaurs running around, one would expect dinosaur bones to show up in refuse pits and middens on archaeological sites in the United States. The dinosaurs were most closely related biologically to birds and lizards, which means that they tasted like chicken and turkey. Yet, we find zero dinosaur bones in features and middens at archaeological sites in the United States. In dry cave and rockshelter sites where perishable materials are found well-preserved, we find no dinosaur leather clothing and no tools or objects made out of dinosaur bones. Ancient Native American art contains no dinosaurs. You would think that a large T. Rex would have been impressive enough for a person to draw on cliff, cave, or rockshelter walls———but none.

    The bare, raw-boned fact of the matter is that dinosaurs became extinct 90 million years before Native Americans arrived in the United States. The two never met. We also know for certain that Native Americans were living in the United States thousands of years BEFORE 10,000 years ago. Long before Adam and Eve were created on the 6th day. We find their stone tools and other artifacts all over the United States in very large numbers, and they are often mixed with the bones of the extinct Pleistocene megafauna mammals that they hunted, and the tell-tale marks of animal butchering are still present on their bones when we find them.

    My business is American archaeology, and I am a professional archaeologist. It is my business to know this sort of information and data about human prehistory in the United States. Anyone who believes that human beings were alive on the Earth at the same time as dinosaurs is willfully ignorant of the facts—and in my honest opinion—is just plain stupid. Clinging to this sort of ignorance and nonsense is a poor reflection on people who supposedly claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, is a poor reflection on the Holy Trinity, and it drives millions of intelligent, well-informed people away from Jesus Christ and his church every year all around the world—people who otherwise might come are being driven away by this fundie nonsense.

    Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe in an angry, no-nonsense God who is devoted to truth, holiness, and perfection in all things. Given their unique perspective on God, do they seriously think that this holy and incessantly angry God will “hold them blameless” for the loss of those millions of human souls that they directly drove away from Christ with their ignorance and nonsense? They may one day say to God in apology, “But the Earth was only about 5,000 to 10,000 years old. We worked that out by counting up the begats in your Holy Bible. We followed your Holy Word.” God may then say to them, “You blind guides and total idiots!!! I used the scientists on Earth to reveal to you the true facts about the age of the Earth in the 19th and 20th centuries. These were my appointed times in human history to reveal this truth unto you, and you chose to ignore the facts of my revelations when they were placed directly under your noses. Explain to me how a person who claims to follow me is unable to discern my revealed truth when it is stuck right under your noses!!!” There will be great wailing and gnashing of teeth when the fundie hordes realize that they were not God’s only exclusive people on Earth and that they spent their whole lives perpetrating webs of ignorance, lies, and deceit to prop up presupposed spiritual falsehoods that never were true in the first place. Unfortunately, sad to say, these fundie people who live among us today are so far gone, so deeply committed to ignorance, and so devoted to falsehoods, lies, and the displacing of factual truth that only the prayers of nonfundie Christians and the working of the Holy Spirit in our midst can lift them out of the deep pit they have already dug for themselves. Therefore, I would like to ask you all to pray to Jesus of Nazareth for the scales of blindness to fall from the eyes, ears, tongues, and brains of the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who have been deceived by their own self-told lies about science—and ask God to force them into the light of truth that He (God) has otherwise revealed to mankind through modern science. All truth is God’s truth—even the factual truth of science. You can end your prayer with: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

    • I like what you said here: “Clinging to this sort of ignorance and nonsense is a poor reflection on people who supposedly claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, is a poor reflection on the Holy Trinity, and it drives millions of intelligent, well-informed people away from Jesus Christ and his church every year all around the world—people who otherwise might come are being driven away by this fundie nonsense.”

      I have many scientific friends who are now self professed athiests, because this refusal to say that science and religion do not have to war against each other. I have heard many different creation theories, and have had many a conversation just trying to get people to open up their minds to the possibility, that creation didn’t happen exactly as fundamental christians say it did. I think just having the conversation may bring people to Jesus when they realize that loving Jesus, literally, has nothing to do with how the earth was formed or how old it is.

      • Genesis indicates that God “spoke” the various things that were created into existence. The fundies latch on to that word “speak” and think, “Aha!!! He said three words and it just poofed itself into place fully formed in about one second.” In other words, they cannot believe in God unless He bends to their will and shows himself to be nothing but a cheap carnival, sideshow magician at a carnival. It says more about the fundies than it does about God:

        “Well, ain’t that what Gods do? You know. Them’uns Gods there is real pireful. In ma mond, a God ain’t a God unless heeza poofin’ things like a magician. Em’ air magician traits is the very definition of em’ air Gods. Well, I wouldn’t give a spit in the petunia box for a God that would take 600 million years to make things slow-like. What kinda pire is that? Nothin’ in ma mond. Em’air Gods knows that weezuns is jist simple peeple with simple monds that needs us a reel simple-like God whut acts like a magician. You know. Speak and poof!!!”

        That’s the whole problem—in your simple mind. The problem is the faulty assumption that the word “speak” means “poof into existence real sudden-line.” The Bible does not say that this is the meaning of the word “speak.” God knew that we would figure out his real meaning of the word “speak” in several thousand years.

        • What kind of God do you want that can’t speak and create things with 3 words, that takes billions of years to get something done when He commands it done in a day? That would be lame! God is all-powerful. Who are you to doubt what He has said in His word? God created science and can trump science any day. Oh, and by the way, mockery of God’s believers is not cute.

      • The problem here is the “intelligence” idea. People have placed themselves above God. Anyway you slice it, that is NOT intelligent!

  25. Out of all the crazy commentary on this article, Captain Cassidy gets it. It’s obvious to most reasonable people how populations spread, how languages spread, how art movements spread, how religions spread, even how internet memes spread. But people blinded by faith can’t connect the dots to the fact that religious beliefs are a matter of geography is a perfect indicator of how religion is failing America.

    Point being:
    If you were born in Israel, you’d probably be Jewish.
    If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’d probably be Muslim.
    If you were born in India, you’d probably be Hindu.
    If you were born in the East, you’d be any one of the rainbow of Eastern philosophies.
    But because you were born in North America, You’re Christian. Surprise.
    It’s a testament to the basic observable fact that religious beliefs are not inspired by some divine, constant truth, it’s simply geography.

    Christians get all hung up on the bible b/c they’ve been told their whole life that it’s somehow the word of God before they were able to process what they were being taught. It’s not like the golden rule hasn’t been uttered by any other non-christian culture and there’s truly nothing special in the bible that any other 1st century author couldn’t have written. Biblical narratives encapsulate a minuscule period of time in a minuscule corner of the world. To treat it as a science book,or the final word in the totality of ethics and morality is short sighted at best. Though shalt not rape anyone EVER, and Thou shalt take no human slave EVER sure didn’t make it into the top 10 commandments….

    Be good for goodness sake

    • The words and syntax of the “WORD” are processed into meaning by the fallible and errant minds of men. There is nothing wrong with the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. The problem always has been and still is what goes on in the gray noodles of human crania.

      “Crania, crania, crania? Well, I don’t git it. Only some peeples is got cranes—like my friend Homer. Heezuns is got bulldozers and backhoes too down at his place.”

      This is guy why God gave us highly educated priests and theologians—and I mean Oxford and Cambridge—not the Elmer Smoot College of the Bible.

  26. Robert and all of a like mind to him, first let me thank you. I thought one of the Bible’s traditions had passed away. But now I see that you have kept it alive and practice it every day. I am talking about my ancestors, those who followed the Pharisee code.

    Robert your are a true Pharisee and would make most of them proud. Almost all of them except one called Saul, who later preferred to be called Paul.

    Pharisee demand that someone become pure and clean before they can approach God. Jesus came not for them, but for the sinners. Jesus spent time with the lost and those the religious would consider unworthy. And what did Jesus do?

    Did he demand they follow a script code of beliefs, aka a creed?

    No, Jesus dined with them and offered love and grace and forgiveness. I suggest you try it. It might hell you take that plank out of your eye.

    But then again, I have an advantage over you all. You see, being born a Jew I had 31 years to see the evil and hatred and beatings (yes, I had to fight bigger older boys and usually 2 or 3 at a time). I know most Christians are not really good, but more often than not the bad guys. Unfortunately I learned to see Christians and Jesus through their ugly faces.

    But then something happened. I said a prayer in Jerusalem during the Yom Kippur War during a moon lit blackout night and 121 months later God answered it. I had my Paul moment. I met Jesus face to face and He invited me, sinner and far from perfect into His pure love.

    You cannot judge anyone and call yourself a true follower or disciple of Jesus. You can call yourself a Christian as millions do who know very little about Jesus. Oh, they know the bible or what their leaders say, they know creeds and rules and how to be a modern Pharisee – but they do not know grace and love and God’s forgiveness nor His Son Jesus.

    I will pray for all your absolutists like Robert who have more faith in their creeds and degrees than in Jesus for Jesus showed me and taught me what you can never teach – and that is love and forgiveness. I forgive you for your do not know what you do. You may think you kn ow Jesus, but remember there will be many who Jesus will say He does not know and I fear for you. There is still time if you can soften your heart and repent and turn to a different path. Away from judgement and politics and towards love and Jesus.

  27. Robert and all of a like mind to him, first let me thank you. I thought one of the Bible’s traditions had passed away. But now I see that you have kept it alive and practice it every day. I am talking about my ancestors, those who followed the Pharisee code.

    Robert your are a true Pharisee and would make most of them proud. Almost all of them except one called Saul, who later preferred to be called Paul.

    Pharisee demand that someone become pure and clean before they can approach God. Jesus came not for them, but for the sinners. Jesus spent time with the lost and those the religious would consider unworthy. And what did Jesus do?

    Did he demand they follow a script code of beliefs, aka a creed?

    No, Jesus dined with them and offered love and grace and forgiveness. I suggest you try it. It might help you take that plank out of your eye.

    But then again, I have an advantage over you all. You see, being born a Jew I had 31 years to see the evil and hatred and beatings (yes, I had to fight bigger older boys and usually 2 or 3 at a time). I know most Christians are not really good, but more often than not the bad guys. Unfortunately I learned to see Christians and Jesus through their ugly faces.

    But then something happened. I said a prayer in Jerusalem during the Yom Kippur War during a moon lit blackout night and 121 months later God answered it. I had my Paul moment. I met Jesus face to face and He invited me, sinner and far from perfect into His pure love.

    You cannot judge anyone and call yourself a true follower or disciple of Jesus. You can call yourself a Christian as millions do who know very little about Jesus. Oh, they know the bible or what their leaders say, they know creeds and rules and how to be a modern Pharisee – but they do not know grace and love and God’s forgiveness nor His Son Jesus.

    I will pray for all your absolutists like Robert who have more faith in their creeds and degrees than in Jesus for Jesus showed me and taught me what you can never teach – and that is love and forgiveness. I forgive you for your do not know what you do. You may think you kn ow Jesus, but remember there will be many who Jesus will say He does not know and I fear for you. There is still time if you can soften your heart and repent and turn to a different path. Away from judgement and politics and towards love and Jesus.

    • It’s not about degrees or politics or softening of hearts. It is about not letting today’s culture warp and water down the word of God to fit what people want it to say.

  28. I grew up in a radically conservative, evangelical church and school… I even went to an equally conservative, apolistic college. I had intended to be a music pastor. I ended up leaving because I had spent most of my life struggling to align myself with the beliefs of my teachers, friends, and school mates. I often heard stories of my “friends” holding prayer circles for me, because I had non-christian friends (that I wasn’t friends with just to convert). Any time I asked a question or seemingly disagreed with the teacher, there was just another reason to cast a dispersion on me. The breaking point for me was when I was tricked into believing my roommate’s father (who was very ill) had a medical emergency. I had rushed back to our dorm (from the middle of a movie with my non-christian friends) and was locked in a room with a few of my “friends” and “mentors” so they could have an intervention for me. To say it was one of the worst experiences of my life would not be an understatement. I dropped out of school only a few weeks later.

    Since then, I have learned that my faith matters to no one but me and Jesus. For as many times as I’ve been called “unchristian” I have been referred to as a woman with deep faith and conviction. I’ve been referred to as a heretic and as a great follower of Christ. I could go on, but the point is, I have learned over the years that there will ALWAYS be people who agree and disagree with us. The important thing is to understand that no one is every guaranteed to be “right”, probably isn’t right about even a fraction of the things out there, and being right really isn’t even the point. We are all meant to learn from each other, to use the logic and thinking powers God gave us, and to not just be clones of who we are “supposed” to be.

    I love this quote by Walt Lippmann, I think it is exactly to the point: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

  29. To me, it all comes down to whether or not the Bible is infallible – and, if it does contain ‘mistakes’, can we still follow it? I firmly believe that God inspired the people who wrote the Bible, just like God has inspired countless pastors to write sermons (just further along the spectrum). I often disagree with my pastor, because he is a human, and he is capable of misunderstanding God’s inspiration. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t trust anything else he says – I just have to use the discernment that God has given me to find the truth in the message. I think Paul was a lot closer to God than any pastor I’ve had, but he was still a man.
    The Bible is NOT God. It contains a ton of truth, wisdom, and instruction, but is not an idol to be worshipped. We are meant to have complete faith and trust in God, and not in anything else.
    So when I look at James 5:15, which says that if we pray in faith for a sick person, they will be healed, I have to conclude one of two things: either (1) that is literally true, which means that literally none of the millions of people who pray for sick children they read about online have faith, because at least some of those children still die, or (2) James’s words in that verse aren’t completely true. I’m much more comfortable with the latter. I don’t think James was trying to deceive, I just think he didn’t quite get it – or maybe he just didn’t mean to say it the way it came out – or maybe it’s just been mistranslated. Either way, it reminds me that I have to read the words in the Bible with a discerning heart, and look for the truth that is contained within.

    • Comparing sermons to the Bible is not valid. NO where does God tell us in the Bible that sermons are God inspired! Only the Bible is God inspired.

  30. Trying to answer sensibly here, rather than emoting… 🙂

    From the article:

    – not believe that people born LGBT are inherently sinful because of that fact.
    well no, not because of THAT particular fact, but it is plain all over Scripture that everyone is born sinful and hating God. Why sdhould GBT folks be any different? And why should THEY get a pass on repenting from their sin of choice? No one else does.
    – trust much of what Science has revealed about the world and how it works.
    Every Christian does. It’s when science steps into the field of history that it fails. Badly.
    – believe that Hell might or might not really exist.
    Scripture is clear. It does. If it doesn’t the gospel is meaningless and none of this matters. In which case the Bible isn’t even a good book worth reading.
    – notice what appear to be contradictions in the Bible.
    Yes, to the untrained eye which would rather not do the required homework there may appear to be. But there are not actual contradictions.
    – not believe you need a magic prayer to escape eternal torment.
    Prayer is not magic, but God is super-natural. And having our dead hearts replaced by a living heart is a miracle. What would you call it?
    – have non-Christian friends without having an agenda to “get them saved”.
    Maybe not an agenda per se, but certainly a hope. The hope would be necessary. I don’t think you could be a Christian and really not care about that.
    – allow Biology, Archeology, Astronomy, and Psychology to all shape your Theology.
    Umm…why let man’s words trump God’s? Why not let God’s word shape man’s?
    – point out when you see a church or pastor doing damage or perpetuating hatred.
    Yes, we all should do that, but I bet when you say “perpetuating hatred” you mean teaching that sin is sin. but again, yes, every Christian would repudiate Westboro Baptist.
    – believe that dinosaurs existed on a very, very old earth.
    Yes, every Christian would believe that. And also yes, 6000 years is very very old.
    – not vote Republican.
    Well duh. But voting for avowed baby-killer supporters (Democrats) should be seen as problematic no matter your political leanings.
    – see the beauty and truth in other faith traditions and even joyfully learn from them.
    Why exactly? since Jesus is the Truth, why bother looking for truth in religions which actively disobey the first commandment? Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognize it when they get some things right, but they don’t get anything right that the Bible doesn’t already teach. Plus, since their adherents don’t believe their only hope for salvation, it makes it hard to admire those religions.
    – believe that there is true stuff not in the Bible, and stuff in the Bible that isn’t true.
    First part, everyone believes that. Second part, well you’d have to explain how God could breath out mistakes.
    – not go to church on Sundays—or ever.
    Unrepentant disobedience is not what any Christian does. “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” is a clear command. Not saying that you can’t be a Christian if you don’t go to church, but it certainly represents a serious problem.
    – have questions about major tenets of the Christian faith.
    Of course. Everyone does. But having questions is not the same as doubting God’s trustworthiness. “Did God really say…?”
    – not be completely sure who Jesus is but yet love him deeply and walk in his ways.
    Well you’d have to be completely sure that he is God come in the flesh in order to walk in his ways. God did say , through the apostle John, “Is you love me you will keep my commandments” not “If you do good things that’s just like knowing who I am.”

      • Well that was rude dover1952. Its really easy to hide behind the word brainwashed. It is one of those fun buzzwords people use to make others feel stupid but really has little validity and could be easily said about anything. “I guess those damned liberals got at you again with their brainwashing tactics.” (As you can see I could say that, but I don’t think that. I think you just have difference of opinion than myself and mister little.) If you are going to attack someone (who I would assume, from his post, is a genuine brother of mine, in Christ) you better come after him harder with some real meat. He is being supported by G-d. If you don’t believe in G-d that is fine but I can assure you that Daryl is very much unshaken by you. I stand by everything he said. He used the words of G-d to correct John Pavlovitz who is claiming to be a christian and speaking sinfully. Great work Daryl, sincerest prayers.

        • Go chew on this. There is nothing in this world like a witness who has been on the inside for a long time. I have doubts that you or Daryl really understand the God you claim to worship or how to read the Bible wisely and properly—so buzz off. I have more experience with fundie BS than is dreamed of in your philosophy Horatio..

    • Wow Daryl Little, what you say here is why what so many fundamentalist/right wing Christians say scare me so much my stomach twists… I have issue with just about everything you write but when you say:

      “– believe that Hell might or might not really exist.
      Scripture is clear. It does. If it doesn’t the gospel is meaningless and none of this matters. In which case the Bible isn’t even a good book worth reading.”

      you are basically saying that the only reason you follow Jesus, do good and try to be faithful is to avoid an eternity in hell. So without that threat you would do all the bad things that would send you to hell if it existed? Frightening to say the least. But so horribly sad that the only reason you choose to believe and follow Jesus is to avoid some sort of punishment. I don’t ever remember Jesus using the threat of hell to get ‘sinners’ to behave differently or in order to make them believe in God…..what a warped view of God’s love and Jesus’ message you have. What a sad way to live…

    • Great work Daryl. When reading this I thought I would have to say something against this false teaching, but instead I can stand by you as a fellow brother in christ. Praying for you. Praying for boldness, growth and holiness in us both and for the rest of our body.

    • Matt Hert: So you do not think the fundies are in the business of brainwashing? Tell you what. Go to this blog and send a message to the blog owner asking if there is any such thing as “Christian fundamentalist brainwashing.” He was one of their chief brainwashers for more than 25 years Why ask me when you can ask an expert on the subject?

      http://brucegerencser.net/

      I know what I am talking about from many years of experience studying this subject. I do believe in God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but I do not believe they are the scary monsters that you and Daryl probably do. You sound like a K-12 kid. Wipe your nose kid.

    • Daryl Little!!!! YAY!!! Beautifully said! Thank you.
      The only thing I would add is that God created science. People have just forgotten that, and have come to the conclusion that they are the brilliant ones when they have only discovered it (as if they created the Grand Canyon!): like math, music, laws of nature, etc. Science is not counter to the Bible until people forget that it is only a tool God has given us.

    • I wonder how many people who claim to be Christians, actually know the history of the bible itself. The fact that it was written, rewritten multiple times, compiled by the Roman Catholic Church and in the case of Jesus, there is not one book that serves as a contemporary record of Jesus’s life. The New Testament was written close to a hundred years after Jesus died. The bible was written by man, for man and while there is a lot of truth in the bible and there are a lot of good lessons to be learned, there is also a lot of false information and it is full of inconsistencies and hypocrisy. Religion and hypocrisy seem to go hand in hand and usually the ones who preach the loudest are the most guilty.
      Faith is a personal journey and experience, not a set of rules that must be followed in a certain way.

  31. Thanks so much! You have articulated my thoughts….some of which I felt guilty for having. When you are told you can only believe one way, it is often difficult to get rid of the things that no longer serve you. I will say though, when I gave up the fundamentalism, my love for God grew deeper and more real because I was no longer so afraid. So, thank you! You have given me more to think about.

    • “You have articulated my thoughts….some of which I felt guilty for having.” I just want to weep at that sentiment. I have so been there, guilty and worried and confused and angry at it all, when all I wanted was some kind of validation that I didn’t suck, and that asking questions was encouraged and to enjoy the fellowship of people who “didn’t have all the answers.” I wasn’t sure I wanted answers anyway.

  32. John, Thank you for such a wonderful article. This is an awesome explanation of why so many have left the church. And I am sure you know that once they have left the most likely never come back. Thank you so much. This has been shared on our FB page.

  33. A few of the items on Jon’s list would not be enthusiastically embraced by adherents to conventionally evangelical doctrine. But none of the items, if embraced, would preclude salvation through Jesus Christ. Because they are all of them at least one click removed from the essence of saving faith: “Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God” [John 1:12, and many other equivalent passages]. For those who find items on Jon’s list unacceptable, we can find many hundreds more of contentiously summarized statements of “propositional truth”. And if you were to vigorously quiz every self-confessed Christian on all of them, you would find a vanishingly small number who lined up on your side of every single one of them. So chill out, people!

  34. Thank you. For years I have felt frustrated with evangelical “god in a box” thinking. I choose love because….the RED LETTERS in my bible tell me to do so. Dogma and doctrine really cause a cancer that spreads and pushes people away from the word of God. As a former fundie, I have spent the last 20 years walking away….but when I read blogs like this, it really makes me want to dive more into the bible and seek the love and cosmic spirituality that can be found in it. The truth is personal when you feel Jesus in your heart and want to live your life according to his compassion…NOT when someone else brow beats you into their mold. Keep on keeping on!

    • I would like to ask you something Heather. When you were that fundie long ago, did you feel like you would be able to walk into the Roman arena and calmly face the hungry lions like the early Christians did—or would it have scared you shitless? Some Roman historical accounts that I have seen indicate that the Romans in the bleachers were hoping for lots of drama from people wailing and crawling around in fear over their impending deaths at the paws of the beasts. They were sorely disappointed when the Christians came in, knowing what was going to happen, and appeared to be quite happy, calm, and emotionally together about the whole thing. I have a hypothesis that the fundies of today would fall all to pieces emotionally and provide great drama because they have great faith that they are about to go meet a God they fear more even more than Caesar and the lions. Whereas, quite oppositely, the love-soaked Christians like you and John Pavlovitz would have your minds calmly set on the love because you are about to go meet with dad—and could you Romans please hurry up and get this over because the steaks were just put on the grill and we want to get to dad’s house before the food gets cold. That was the difference—and that is why the Roman audiences were so disappointed. Perfect love casteth out fear.

  35. Interesting article. The author is correct in that a number of people keep shifting the line on the parametres for being a “Christian” in culture. Unfortunately, it appears that the author is doing the same by setting out his own parametres. I think that the real question here is who or what gets to set the parametres? Bloggers? Pastors and other religious leaders? Politicians (shudder)? The bible? It is also interesting that a list of issues with what is given the traditional parametres is given, but no specific examples. In the end, this posting appears to perpetuating what the author has written against.

  36. Peaple are scared of any thoughts that are different to what they believe or don’t believe. That’s why they act out when someone may have a new twist on something. Don’t rock the boat they think and get angry! The truth is Jesus was new 2000 yrs ago and they killed him for being an original! Why becuz they were scared. Thank u for ur thoughts and words. Let the truth ring!

  37. Great post! Good points. Love Christ, love each other. I’ve struggled with the obvious problem of sola scriptura and biblical infallibility for a long, long time. John, if you’re ever in Minnesota let me know. Would love to hear you speak or meet you for a cup of coffee.

  38. Young people please please hear me. What he writes “feels good”. It’s “cool to be progressive”. But this thread is a perfect example of how evil is flourishing like a wild fire and blinding many people. This plays out in the national political stage. If you speak of sin or point out sin you are instantly labeled as a fear or hate monger. Why? It’s doesn’t feel good. It’s not part of the fuzzy warm safe Christain culture. There is only one destination to this way of thinking and that is the eventual erasing of one true God and replacing him with you being God. Look at progressive church attendance. Youth soon ask “why attend church?” After the cool music, edgy clothes, feel good self therapy what is left? For me, less self and more God has saved me. Anything that points to self should be suspect.

    • Young people, please, please hear me. This is only Greg’s opinion of his interpretation of John’s words. My view is that Greg wants you to subscribe to an earth-bound intellectually motivated doctrine; this is NOT faith but a belief system – there is a huge difference. My words now – Do not fall prey to the belief that fear is the way to Christ. That fear leads to positive human-God relationships. Fear is the universal blocker that removes rational thought and absolutely destroys faith.

  39. Does anyone believe God???

    Is God ALL powerful ?
    Is the devil (if you believe in satan) so powerful that he can make the bible mostly his so that it’s almost impossible to believe IN The Word of God???

    Or is this man made fear?
    (By the way fear comes from the devil.)

    Just as God is the giver of life He gave us His Word.

    You either accept that or you don’t.
    Jhn 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    Jhn 1:2
    The same was in the beginning with God.
    Jhn 1:3
    All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    Jhn 1:14
    And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    What part of God’s Word do you not believe ?

    2 Tim. 3:16
    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    Do you really think that The Alpha and Omaga The Beginning and End is up in heaven worried that the devil has changed His Word???

    I don think so!

    We believe by faith!!! And…

    His sheep know his voice and a stranger they will not fallow.

    Trust in God’s Word for it is the weapon of God’s armor.

    What good is a soldier without a weapon?
    And what good is a weapon if you don’t know how to use it.
    Stay behind God’s Word and you can’t go wrong.
    That’s what I do. God bless.

    • religion as a weapon. Exactly why more are becoming less interested in it and taking it for what it is, mythology mixed with or oral traditions littered with some useful ethical and moral teachings, but mostly filled with outdated observations that no longer pass muster.

  40. John, they’re good points and all, but…where is your sense of community? Even Jesus had 12 friends he traveled around with…and all the original disciple guys and gals hung out together…it kinda looks to me like it’s “Jesus and Me and no-one else” I’m reading here?…just askin’…pax!…

  41. Faith and a Christian Belief System (doctrines based on human interpretation of the Bible), are two very distinct things. However, I get the impression that many Christians interpret Belief System as Faith. Actually, the two are not interchangeable. A belief system is often based on interpretation, opinion, and the use of intellectual knowledge and skills to unwravel meaning behind a text or other source of evidence. A belief system is also often established to harbour power and authority over other systems. Essentially, a belief system is often drafted by human intellect and leads to a set of norms, values and rules designed to ‘control’ and/or ‘moderate or safeguard’ against other possible interpretations of the same texts or sources. So, when you buy into a belief system, it becomes very difficult to challenge it, because, essentially, to challenge means to threaten the norms and rules which glue that system together; without which the system would collapse. Many of the conservative evangelical arguments I read here are ego-defensive ones. They are not truly rational but rather defend at all costs the adherence to the set of given norms, values and rules; this is done out of fear more than ballanced judgment. Incidentally, this is exactly how cults function.

    The issue I have with this is that the focus is totally removed from Christ, with the emphasis firmly placed on the belief system norms. In a sense what you worship is not God but your belief system; designed by humans. God cannot be contained in any belief system because God is omnipotent, and omnipresent. You cannot ‘box’ up God and hand him round the table! Many of the anti-critical thinking posts I read appear to be so focussed on the right-wrong, good versus evil, with the use of evocative and emotive arguments.

    Why not lean more on your faith and not your belief system and let God do the work? Why not give the Holy Spirit the time of day and ask for more faith not more tangible human belief. Why not put aside your unnecessary differences perpetuated by and through your belief systems and allow God to lead the way. How small must your faith be to think that God could ever lose control. But, how arogant you must be to think that you can control God through your belief system. Faith in God is what we should be getting together to pray for and not more human intellectual belief and more subscribers to our personalised belief systems. Leave everything behind and follow Jesus to a path of enlightenment.

  42. Excellent stuff, John. Please let me add the fact that (in my experience and observation) most mainstream Christians already agree with you:

    — whether here in Australia, or in the States, or in Britain, or anywhere else;

    — whether RC, or Orthodox, or “Protestant”, or Episcopal/Anglican, or Friends, or whatever;

    — whether young or old;

    — whether lay or ordained.

    We all need to make a strong distinction between the beliefs and practices of mainstream Christianity and those of the wild-and-woolly self-proclaimed “conservative evangelicals”.

  43. I couldn’t help notice the irony that Pavlovitz wrote, “None of us can ever claim sole ownership of the Truth,” when earlier he had written “You can be a Christian and…” followed by 15 truth claims…. Very subtle comedy (assuming he is trying to be funny).

  44. If Adam and Eve did not exist, then Jesus could not exist. Family lineage is very important in the story and the prophecies concerning Christ. The human lineage of the Messiah is traced to David and onward back to Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 states that through one man, sin entered the world.
    Also, please remember that Jesus did identify sinful behaviors and told people to turn from those ways. We have a very loving, compassionate, and ever patient God, but we also have a HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, and JEALOUS God. He desires a relationship with us and to remove all “idols” that interfere with that relationship. God’s end game is to restore and redeem creation to its full uncorrupted glory. People who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior should be pursuing Him every day, asking him to search their hearts, minds, and motives and lead them in His way (not man’s way) with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that was given by God to dwell within believers. 1 Cor 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

  45. God makes the rules
    We all fall short
    But cafeteria Christianity is a juvenile joke..

    Do I think a lot of “traditional” Christians are as lame as this post?
    Oh yeah..
    Because the world has NEVER been as Biblically illiterate as now.
    WOO WOO Christianity is not any better than any other apostate Christianity..
    Study to show yourself approved a workman…the Bible is not a deck tarot cards to be interpreted according to what lulu you are trying bed down

    Your immortal soul depends on your sincerely studying the Bible..like the Bereans

  46. John, I have been following your blog for a few months now. Although I do not necessarily always agree with everything you share (but often I do), I appreciate your perspective and your willingness to be transparent about your personal faith journey and the questions and doubts you have along the way.
    I was wondering if you could elaborate on something specific you eluded to in this particular blog. You mentioned not necessarily believing in the existence of hell. can you please share more on your though process regarding this topic, either in response My comment, or address it in a separate blog entry?
    Thank you, and take care.

  47. Lol, well played John.

    It seems most people missed the real point of John’s article. See John is a blogger, who monetizes his website. He gets paid for ad impressions. The more people view the page, the more he gets paid. You don’t have to click on the ads to make him money, he gets paid per ad impression, and the aim of the game is to try to generate as much traffic as you can. While its possible that John just felt a sudden urge to share his personal struggles with others, when you look at the article as whole, the quality of the writing, the image of Jesus on a dinosaur, well its more likely that he was also motivated by money. Don’t doubt for one second that money isn’t a factor on his website, just look around at all the spam.

    Greed.

    • Get real, every Christian minister that has a congregation, every, tele-evangelist that owns a jet (blech), every missionary going to China, every blogger expressing her faith, every musician creating a worship song, every writer spreading ideas is looking for money or self promotion in some form or another so they can pursue their ministry and gifts full-time. Odd that you would single out this blog. :/

    • You know who is the most guilty of greed? Republicans, corporations and Americans in general. Our current president is a good example of what a lust for money will do to a person. Quite disgusting. I don’t feel the author of this page is motivated by money, nor is anyone else who has a blog on the Internet. Yes that can be a factor for some, but just because a Web page is set up a certain way, does not mean the person is only out for money. Personally I think this page is right on the money if you will… he brings up a lot of good points and nothing makes me laugh quicker than seeing a bunch of conservative, fundamentalist, extremist wackos get their panties in a bunch when someone questions their religious beliefs. It’s hilarious but also sad to see how ignorant a lot of these responses are. It’s pretty ironic that a lot of these people would be going to hell (if you believe in that sort of thing) if they were aware of how close minded, bigoted and unlike Christ. Modern American Christianity and conservatives somehow think Christ would be ok with racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and greed. I don’t know when those things became ok but I assure you they are the farthest thing from what Jesus taught.

  48. Pingback: Sermon on the fountain | starlight

  49. I can hardly imagine adding my voice to the din will make much a difference, but I will just the same. To begin, I will say that I could totally imagine writing this thoughtful article myself if I had had a little bit of a different upbringing.

    Please realize that today, as we are over 2,000 years from the birth of Jesus Christ and since ‘Christianity’ has become a thousand different religious sects and without hardly any unity (as you so rightly pointed out), it is quite difficult for any person to make a decision on the ‘right’ Christian doctrine. Therefore, the claims you make in this article are very understandable.
    If you are interested in really being any sort of Christian, I totally recommend looking into the history of the Christian religion. Start with the Act of the Apostles and then attempt to find very, very, strictly historical works that tell the history of the religion and its beliefs from the Death of Christ until this time. See where it takes you and what it leads you to believe about everything Christian. If you really want to be a Christian you have to know what the truth (and I mean the historical truth) of the Christian religion and its doctrines are. That can be learned from history.

    So, rather than writing an article that pieces together the confusion that Christianity has become today and claiming that all the confusion can lead us all to decide that we can be any type of christian we want-READ. Go and actually see if there is any good reason to be a Christian at all and if it is really true that we can make our own versions of Christianity. One can’t claim the name of a Christian if he doesn’t care what Christianity actually is. And, again, an unbiased study of history can show that.

    Good luck!!

  50. Excellent, thought evoking article! After being baptized and introduced to faith in the Catholic church, being non-religious for most of my life and then “being saved” through an evangelical church in my early 30’s, working in ministry for around 10 years, and then returning to the Catholic church, I have experienced many sides faith and religion. I have observed that most people heavily involved in ministry and church activities are wearing a mask and are not truly authentic. Jesus never wanted this for his beloved. He wants us to live authentic lives with him as the center and bringing love into all we do. Judging another person’s heart and salvation is Jesus’ authority, not man’s. Thank you for a this well stated reminder!

  51. Dangerous and provocative. I love it! I don’t agree with all of your statements and that’s okay. We will meet in heaven!

    “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    • See people; THIS is the correct answer to this blog post. Whether you agree with it or not, Steve displays love and compassion, not ignorance and fear based hatred. The world needs more Christians like you Steve.

  52. OK, so I’m one of those “random dudes on a blog comment section” positing some observations on your post. As a pastor for over 30 years, I deeply regret if I have been one of the culprits that you identify as having pushed some people further away from God. It’s never been my intention to control anyone’s faith. I love Jesus and all I’ve ever wanted is for others to love him too. That said, I do think your characterization of Bible believing people is a bit unfair and that your piece depicts a pendulum swing too far from the inadequate Christianity you grew up with.

    I’m so sorry that your fundamentalist background was such an oppressive representation of faith in Jesus. I agree that the earth’s age, magical prayers, and dinosaurs are ancillary issues and not germane to authentic Christianity. And if your piece serves as a catharsis for you and your readers, cool. But I do think you impose too much from your experience onto the whole of evangelicalism and that you inadvertently reject the essentials along with the inessentials (baby and bathwater sort of thing).

    Judging the sincerity of anyone’s faith is above my pay grade. If you tell me that you love Jesus, I believe you. But in my view you discard too many important pieces of the faith. I respect your need to rethink your theology and make it your own, but your musings here seem every bit as dogmatic as the evangelical perspective to which you object. For instance…

    “Not being sure who Jesus is, but love him deeply and walk in his ways.”
    I don’t know everything there is to know about him, and I’m sure he’s infinitely bigger than my meager view of him, but I’m pretty sure I know “who he is,” and it’s that knowledge in conjunction with my experience of him that makes me love him. I don’t know how you can love someone whose identity you’re not sure of.

    “Many Christians and church leaders often find themselves compelled to try and exert both of these over others, in matters of faith. In order to do this, they will often belittle people and malign their character and question their authenticity and doubt their intelligence and evaluate their morality and discount their experiences, should those people come to different spiritual conclusions than their own.”
    I know you said, “many Christians,” here, so you’re certainly not referring to all or even a majority of us, but your approach seems as vitriolic as the opinions and attitudes of those you object to. Sure, there are many preachers of the ilk you describe, but you paint Christian leaders with far too wide a roller. I’m sincerely sorry about the belittling that you experienced and how it made you feel. But it seems to me that you foment as much scorn among your readers as that of the leaders as you say belittled you. From my vantage point, your presentation doesn’t have any more of the ring of Jesus-embodied mercy that you say is lacking in those you judge as toxic.

    “If someone tells you that you’re not doing Christianity right, simply refuse to believe them because they aren’t qualified to make such a claim. They are, after all human and as a result they are as equally flawed, biased, and full of contradictions and inconsistencies as they can ever claim that you are. They have the same evidence at their disposal that you do; the same Scriptures and the same books and the same ability to reason and understand and experience and listen and decide.”
    It seems to me that you do here just what you warn others against doing. You’re telling them that the fundamentalist is not “doing Christianity right.” You too are “human, equally flawed, biased, and full of contradiction and inconsistencies.” Your argument, though peppered with complaints that fit some of mainstream Christianity, is mutually contradictory. You’re telling people to judge for themselves what’s true and at the same telling them what you’re sure is definitely untrue.

    I could quote a bunch of the verses about the benefits of accountability regarding theological ideas in the context of community and in the presence of God-loving and Spirit-appointed leaders. You are undoubtedly familiar with those, and probably have your own opinion of their value. Though God didn’t “drop the Bible shrink-wrapped from heaven” it has been considered for a couple thousand years of church history the best we’ve got for information about the God you and I love. The sushi bar approach to choosing the parts we choose to believe places us above the source of the information. Of course there’s an interpretation issue involved, but I can’t discount three or four hundred generations of Jesus-following Bible-believing sages. Granted, they haven’t provided us with the exactly the same conclusions, but they have left us some fundamental things to hang our faith on.

    “No one, no matter how earnest or faithful or educated or passionate or dedicated has an objective faith.”
    If you mean by “objective faith,” mean-spirited and judgmental Christianity, I agree. But if you mean that no one can be sure of certain realities about God, I couldn’t disagree with you more. He’s clearly a God who wants to be known. Otherwise why would he reveal himself at all?

    You speak of being a Jesus loving person. That implies a great number of objective certainties. To love him you must be certain that he was here, that he still exists, and that he’s worthy of your love. Of course, there are many uncertainties in our faith, but this isn’t a purely subjective pursuit. God is not made of clay that we can form into whatever mold suits us. I’m certain about that.

    “Never let someone else shrink your story with this God. If Jesus wants your faith to look different than it does, trust that he will tell you himself; not a famous preacher or a church friend—and definitely not some random dude on a blog comment section.”
    No doubt that Jesus is the one we should seek for the truth about God. Seeing him is seeing the Father. He’s the focus of our love and should be consulted about how he wants us to relate to him. And it’s tragic how many demagogic preachers there are who just want control people and steal their money.

    But I’m sad for you if such people have frightened you away from the value of mutually invited accountability in the context of Christian community. The Bible clearly advocates a servanthood leadership model by people of integrity, gifted by God to assist in people’s understanding and experience of God. I assume that’s what you do as a pastor yourself. Yes?

    You obviously have opinions about Jesus that you share with your own community. I doubt that the people you serve believe nothing in particular about everything. I’m sure you do lots of facilitating of conversations about God and the Bible in your ministry and celebrate the great mysteries of our faith. Right on. But I can’t imagine that you simply have discussions and send everyone home with no certain ideas or mutually agreed upon realities.

    “Your Christianity is no other human being’s jurisdiction.”
    How can you say this when even Jesus told his disciples to “teach” their disciples to obey all things he commanded them? Beyond that, I can only imagine that your view of Paul’s letters, especially the ones to his protégés, Timothy and Titus, wherein he gave them instructions on servant leadership, is quite different than mine. It’s true that Scripture has to be contextualized, but not picked over like chocolates.

    Sure, even the best of Christian leaders are going to disagree on biblical issues. They’re not always going to be right in their doctrine or even their lifestyles, but that doesn’t preclude the church’s need for objective teaching about certain certainties.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

    Blessings.

  53. “And you get to live in it and breathe it in and discover it without constraints.” False. God specifically gives us guide lines so we avoid hurting ourselves and others.
    Here is some information to consider using scientific theories to support a young earth. And who does not believe in dinosaurs?
    http://setterfield.org/

    Don’t be afraid of the truth

  54. Thank you, John.
    Personally, I have NEVER voted for a political party; they’re ALL corrupt. I always vote for people who I think have the best chance to make the right changes. What a shame they hardly ever get elected.

    My religion is the same way. I stopped ‘believing’ in “The Church” quite a while ago. In the end, if God and Christ aren’t in your heart from the very beginning, then you’re screwed, cause you’re not gonna find Them in a Church.

  55. John, you state that you can be a Christian and not completely know who Jesus is…. please explain what you mean by this. I have entered into a good conversation with some family members concerning this article and i need clarification on this particular issue. To be fair, I don’t agree with most of your assertions, but i want to hear what you have to say to make sure i am not taking this the wrong way.

  56. I have wondered for years what hard line followers of all religions will do if we get to Heaven and it’s like the floor of Congress when it functioned well – Heads nodding together and deals being made ….Mary cradling an injured child in her arms while a Native American Spirit causes an undetectable spontaneous human combustion of a wife- and child-abuser; God and Mohammed working together to lead rescue workers to where survivors of a bombing lay under the rubble. Jesus and Buddha working together to scoop people up out of the water after an airplane crash…..But when I’ve wondered that aloud, anyone within earshot has been scandalized at the very thought.

  57. Thank you! I no longer identify with the “Christian” label but I enjoy reading your posts. For me, it is entirely possible and refreshing to believe in a higher power without believing the Bible is the word of God. Some of the very best people I know are atheist or agnostic, possessing the most loving and giving of souls. They have superb ethics, values and good judgment without relying on this book, although all are prolific readers. I studied the Bible six years before I could let go of the indoctrination that started with “Now I lay me down to sleep”…

  58. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”
    ~ Galatians 1:8

  59. I will never forget reading about Abe Lincoln trying to decide how the God he prayed to and the God the Rebels prayed to, being the same God mentioned in the same Bible for both, would resolve the outcome of the US Civil War. Maybe it is just as well to ask that the Force be with us and then get on with what we know to be right.

  60. Just because I find this stuff interesting…I believe that Adam and Eve were real people but that there were evolved people outside of the garden. When Cain killed Able, he was sent away from his family of origin, but he found a wife out there somewhere. I think that is what Genesis refers to when it says that the sons of God looked on the daughters of man, saw that they were fair, married them, and produced a race of giants. Either way, it doesn’t matter, as God is not confined by time, or space or culture. It’s just fun to think about.

  61. John…

    I believe that modern day christianity has devolved from a faith that was once more about spirituality and a direct relationship with God, into a belief in dogma and rules and systems of belief made up by man rather than god, and instead of bringing people closer to God, has moved them further and further away until hate has become love, and love has become evil. I firmly believe that modern day christianity is the generation of vipers that Jesus spoke of. They show their utter disdain and hate for anything that is actually Christ like. Instead, they have twisted a religion of love into one that fosters hate and division and drives people further from God.

    As a former minister myself, and as a member of the LGBT community, God isn’t as small as modern day christianity makes Him out to be. They have lost their way and become the pharisees and Sadducee of our time. Sure of their own righteousness, but their pretty white robes hide the filth that lies beneath. Whited tombs.

    ~Elain

  62. The word “Christian” means ‘Christ-one’, ‘like Christ’, or ‘little Christ’. As I was reading the article, I kept waiting for some for of reference to the actual recorded accounts in the Bible of who Christ was, what He taught, etc, but no such reference came. As a self-proclaimed Christian, I am curious where this comparison comes in. It seems to me that (1) either John has no desire to read or reference the Bible when creating his idea of Christianity, or (2) he is using a ‘pick-and-choose’ approach toward his faith; a very convenient philosophy as it limits one’s accountability while maximizing license. This biblically ignorant religious platform is incredibly dangerous.

    • It’s funny you mention the “pick and choose” argument when talking about John’s take on Christianity. Cherry-picking what parts to follow is exactly what modern Christianity is about. Nobody follows the old testament laws because they are seen as archaic (not many people are being stoned to death in America these days, especially for eating shellfish or wearing a garment made of more than one kind of material). But in old testament times, those laws were taken very seriously.

      I wish more people realized religions in general are archaic and unnecessary. More wars and deaths have been the in the name of religion than just about anything else in history. Morality and religion are not mutually exclusive. One doesn’t need a God to know right from wrong. The decision to live a selfish life, or to live a life of service to others, and the recognition that the latter type of person will be happier and more fulfilled is a personal decision that again, doesn’t need a God or religion to understand.

      Seeking truth and being a good person is about all we can strive for as humans. To say that a geographic based religious system – and that your religion, whichever it happens to be, is the only true religion and the only way to God, or the only way to be a good person is laughable.

  63. Everybody getting worked up over nothing. Nobody’s made up fairy tale is better than the other. Great, you believe in dinosaurs and didn’t vote for a guy who basically embodies the guy in the old testament. You also still believe in an invisible magician who lives in the sky, looks like you, talks like you, and cares about you. Nobody takes you seriously. If anything, big pops is laughing at you. Get over yourselves!

    • Exactly James. The fact that in this day and age there are so many people still desperately clinging to their out dated Abrahamic religions is just ridiculous.

      MORALITY AND RELIGION ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. You can be good without God people!

  64. This is not a challenge or criticism, just my humble view. I have a hard time understanding why it is so difficult for some to believe in an actual rather than allegorical Adam, Eve, garden, etc. I don’t really care how old the earth is because the Bible states it existed before time was introduced. But that is beside the point. A God, who can love us and reach across all that separates us, can do just about whatever He pleases. If I believe Jesus lived and died to reconcile me to God, opened the grave and walked around on earth another 40 days, then ascended into heaven, then I have no trouble believing in Adam and his fam. If he wants to create an “old” earth, he can. It is a mystery and we are asked to have faith. Faith has been the most precious part of my life’s journey and I’ll take it over “science” any day.

  65. Wow. Reading this really resonated with me. I had a long conversation last night with Christian friends about gay marriage, and I shared that I feel led to support gay marriage as being judgmental and against it never sat right with my heart. No one else shared my view. Sometimes I worry I’m not a “real” Christian as my views often differ from the mainstream and I do have a lot of doubts and questions. Out of genuine curiosity, what do you think constitutes being a Christian?

  66. I don’t call myself a Christian; I don’t really follow any particular religious doctrine any more. I DO believe in ‘God’, but in a way that most Christians would likely take issue with: there is only one God, but that one God wears many hats. Whatever you call the Creator of all things, He is the same. And probably (if he is still watching and paying attention to what we’ve been busy doing for the last umpteen thousand years since Man became the dominant species on this planet) thinking how very silly we are to spend so much time and energy arguing over who is right about who/what God is/is called/wants us to believe/says on a given issue.

    Christianity at its heart boils down to this: a belief that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, Jesus, that we might be saved from our sins, which will be washed away by Christ’s blood, shed for us.

    So, for me, anyone who grabs a Bible and shoves the Old Testament under my nose is in part straying from the point: Jesus has given us the Covenant of the New Blood. Matthew 26:28 ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’

    Mark 12:29 TELLS us that there is only one God. (Let’s ignore the Holy Trinity, because my thinking is that this verse applies to all the forms and facets and belief systems that have a God figure in them, and the Holy Trinity is the Christian version of that one God). ‘The most important [commandment] is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’ (To paraphrase the NIV verse). (Deuteronomy says something very similar at 6:4 ‘The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!’)

    Mark 12:30 then instructs to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength. 12:31 says ‘The second commandment is this: Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.

    So, love God, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.

    How you choose to show your love for God and your neighbour is entirely up to the individual. For me, I try to live a good life; I try not to hurt others, I try to treat others as I would like them to treat me. I try not to lose my temper. I try to be patient. (I’m working on those.)

    Galatians 5 is the other chapter that has great meaning. ‘All that matters is faith, expressed through love.’ Then we are instructed to walk by the Spirit, and not indulge the pleasures of the flesh – things like hatred, idolatry, sorcery, sexual immorality, debauchery, impurity (and oh, those things are wide open to interpretation if you want to argue their meaning), and we are warned that those who practice such things will not enter the kingdom of God. And this is followed by instruction as to those things that are the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

    I don’t know. I believe, for myself, that if I try my best to be loving, joyful etc and do my utmost not to let hatred take root in my heart, that I am on the right path.

    The things my parents brought me up believing were such ideas as ‘Hate the sin but love the sinner’ and ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’. ‘Remove the splinter from your own eye before trying to remove the mote from the eye of another (or something like that). Judge not lest ye be judged is another favourite!

    I’ve never really stopped to think whether Adam and Eve were real. I don’t believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old; I definitely don’t believe that men rode around on dinosaurs! If there’s no Hell, is there a Heaven? What is Heaven like? I’d personally like it to be a place where I can be reunited with the people I’ve loved and lost and the cats I’ve loved and lost.

    I’m not sure there are any correct answers, for the most part, so I think loving others and treating them how I’d like to be treated seems like a pretty sound and non-harmful way to live a life. As is trying to do good in the world, in whatever way we can and how we perceive that to be. Voluntary work is a good starting point.

    I’ve waffled so much I think I may have lost my point; really I don’t think any of us is qualified to say if someone is or is not ‘a Christian’. Rather than slap on a label, I’d rather see others try to live in the way that Christ instructed us to.

  67. It’s not just the last couple of hundred years that people have been careful to define what it means to be agreeing with God, and what it means to be a Christian in that light. Church history is 2000 years of passionate debate in order to preserve the Church’s holding fast to the Gospel, which is that Christ is the Creator, and the Lord, the Substitute and the Treasure of this life and the life to come. It’s not easy for post-moderns to place themselves in this larger timeline and story. But it’s comical that so many find it so easy to state their opinion with so little education and so heavy a reliance on what they think, experience, and hope to be true. John, you hope for a God who won’t offend you. Who won’t offend anyone. You even think that I would write something like this out of hate, but it’s not if it’s true and you’re fighting against Truth himself. I do love you. I so dearly hope you encounter Christ in this life. Your idea of him is so very weak, he’s only a man and a servant of your popularity. But he is the Risen God, patient but fearsome, and coming with a sword and fire in his eyes.
    “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

  68. My wife had a funny comment. “You can be a ‘Christian” and not agree with God. But you can’t be a Christian who disagrees with John Pavlovitz and not get blocked.” Since John blocked me on Facebook and i was not at all trolling, just challenging his unbelief.

  69. This is a.. LIE, UNTRUE, NOT GOOD , NOT O.K. AND MAY ”He” The true and living God,( The only one there is) and The Lord Jesus Christ His only Begotten Son,… God In The Flesh… tell you Himself ……

    • Bahaha – this cracks me up. Let me guess Susie, John is a liar and a deceiver sent by the devil to try and corrupt the “good Christians”. Since when is someone who is trying to be open minded and not bigoted towards anyone telling a lie? You probably think the Bible is some magical book of truth that was directly written by God at hands of a few “chosen ones” to record the word of God, and that everything in the bible must be true because it’s the bible.

      Your taking offense at the authors suggestion that faith in God is a personal journey that anyone should be able to experience, regardless of race, sexual orientation or any other human trait, simply shows how Ignorant and unaccepting of a person you are. Exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught.

  70. Oh please…you can be Christian and still blah blah blah

    Well who says? You? Who are you to say what you can do as a Christian? And all you are really doing it saying things thats align with your own personal beliefs. Well you dont get to make that call. Just keep your opinions to yourself. Or start your own religion or something. Dont trybto twist Christianity tonfit your personal worldview!

  71. Here’s how I see it. A day in the life of God is a Billion Years to humans’ concept of time. So, in the first Billion Years God made the earth and, in the last Billion years, God made life on Earth. Adam and Eve were not real people; they were the separate sexes that God created at a time when the life he had already created was still made up of single-cell organisms.

    God is God; He can do whatever he chooses. He does not obey Man’s concept of what God CANNOT do, because there is NOTHING that God CANNOT do.

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