A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside

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To My Dear Christian Friends on the Inside*,

I know that you love me.

I know that because you love me you’re worried about me right now.

I know that you feel that I’ve been led astray down the rebellious path of the prodigal, that I’ve somehow been deceived into darkness and you are gravely concerned for the eternal destination of my soul.

I know you believe that I am currently quite lost and you’re praying tirelessly for me to find my way back before it’s too late.

I know this because when I believed what you believe, I feared the same things about people like me.

I remember looking at those who stand where I now stand and feeling what I believed was a holy compassion for them. I remember well, wanting with great urgency to save them from the destruction they were choosing.

I realize now how arrogant it was for me to assume that because they’d reached different conclusions than I had, that their faith journey was any less valid, and less life-giving, any less true, that God was any less present.

That’s why I’m writing you today: to thank you for worrying about me, for praying for me, and for loving me.

And because I love you, I want to share with you what it’s really like here on the outside, because back then I couldn’t have known and I wish I had. It would have changed my prayers and my words and my very heart toward those who were in this same place.

Here on the outside, yes the answers are less clear than they were inside, but there is great wonder in the search. It is the unpredictable journey of an expectant child exploring a new patch of untouched forest. The path now wildly meanders into places I was told never to go when I was comfortably inside; to new understandings of the Bible, to ancient spiritual practices and different faith traditions, into Science and Philosophy and Art. And the most glorious discovery is finding out that everywhere we plant our feet, God is there waiting. This great big God is indeed far too big to be relegated only to the inside.

Here on the outside Certainty isn’t as treasured as Authenticity. The questions are not character flaws, the doubts not deficiencies, the vacillations not moral failings. They are all the symptoms of a humble heart which realizes the search itself is a sacred thing; that when Jesus tells us to “ask and seek and knock”, he is inviting us beyond the confines of whatever container we might previously have fashioned for God. Once we began to step outside of that constrictive space, we found ourselves moving into the wide expanse of a life fully saturated with Divinity—and we could breathe there.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the outside is that it is a dark place; that there is a coldness and heaviness and sadness here. I used to believe that when I was on the inside, but in truth it was more wishful thinking. I needed to believe that because it helped reinforce my story that I was one of the few enlightened and they among the masses lost in shadow. It made it far easier to assume a posture of moral superiority that way and to subjugate my own nagging soul questions. All I can tell you is that there is brilliant light here. There is laughter and discovery and warmth and community and goodness and grace—and God.

When I was on the inside I remember how important labels were for those who were different. They helped quickly and easily delineate the saved from the sinners, the lost from the found, the righteous from the wicked. These words formed the very clear wall between insiders and outsiders; the wall I fortified and defended.

When people stepped beyond whatever I saw as the inside, I labeled them:

Heretics.
Backsliders.
Prodigals.
False Prophets.
Lost sheep.
Deceived.
Rebels.
Sinners.

So trust me when I tell you I understand why you use these words for me now. I know they give you some comfort and offer some sense of control, so I don’t take offense at them and I don’t have malice toward you for using them.

I can only tell you that these words do not define me.
They do not stick to me.
They are not labels deserving of me or my journey, or any of those out here with me who are seeking and searching with as much care and integrity and diligence and faith as you are there.

I realize it is likely that these words will matter very little to you. I suspect they will not change your mind about my eternal destination or my moral condition or the legitimacy of my current conclusions. I know that you may not be willing or able to see that we are actually on the same beautiful road, just in different places.

I am still a Christian and still the Church and still beloved by God, and I rest in those truths as I continue to navigate the journey even when other things seem less clear. I am confident that unorthodox is not ungodly. 

I know you will probably continue to worry about me and pray for me, and in your way love me—and I am grateful.

And I will love you, by remembering what it was like to be on the inside; to see your heart even in the times your words or your silence damage me.

I will that pray you find compassion and mercy for those who do not believe exactly as you believe, and that you come to trust that God is large enough to speak to both of us simultaneously; whether on the inside or the outside.

Most of all I pray that we will both see this God fully from where we currently stand; wild, untamable, uncontainable, and remember that in this shared orientation toward Love—we are the same.

Peace and Love,

A Backsliding, Prodigal, Heretic, Chasing God Here on the Outside

 

 

 

*The Inside, may be Christian orthodoxy or rigid tradition or any place where one has determined they have all the answers to the deepest questions of this life; where or when they view those outside of that place as morally inferior or as less intelligent, sincere, or faithful.

 

234 thoughts on “A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside

    • I thought being in the ‘flock’ is a good thing? John preaches that being outside the flock is the same as being inside the flock? [Bad things happen outside the flock, i.e., lost, hungry, tired, destroyed.]

      John says, “I am confident that unorthodoxy is not ungodly.” [def. orthodox: true, established, approved]. Because I know exactly what he is talking about (been there)…it doesn’t thrill me –like it does him.

      • Since there are thousands of different Christian denominations (aye, tens of thousands),, just exactly in which sheep pen would you prefer everyone be gathered? Your particular denomination? Any that meet your standards? Perhaps it would be better if we each just got our own soul in order before worrying about others’. I’m sure my own soul needs enough work that I’m not fit to judge the state of others.

        “Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less rascal in the world.”
        Thomas Carlyle

      • The problem arises when we do not allow for the possibility that meanings of such concepts as “the flock” might be varied as we or others grow in understanding. Reading through the gospels we see this sort of misunderstanding occur often. Example: Jesus said he’d raise the temple in three days, it wasn’t the dictionary definition that helped people understand. We know now he was talking about his body, is this right? The body being the temple? What implications does this have on everything else? It is dangerous to allow our comfort blind us to possible misunderstandings. Instead, I’d suggest seeking other examples of possible alternative meanings, choosing with faith what you believe your loving Creator to have meant. You might begin with the word “flock.”

        People “on the inside” tend to have unbendable ideas about biblical concepts that blind and bind people. I’d compare this to a baby in bunting. It’s okay where you are, but be careful judging others lest you be judged.

        • You just believe Christ was lying when he said that his followers should be One as He and The Father were one. That is ok, most people who call themselves Christian today think Christ was lying when He said his followers should live in unity.

    • …’my path meanders into places I was told never to go, I now look at ancient spiritual practices, I look at different faiths, there is brilliant light, I’m seeking & searching, on my journey, I see God as wild and untamable –we are all on the same beautiful road…”. These are New Age beliefs, where the creation is worshipped. They dovetail nicely with Hindu teachings: ‘I Am God, You are God, everything is God’. I wish John well on his journey to enlightenment. Please know though…that it is a merit-based journey, a cruel task master, which begins & ends with Self.

      • Bullshit!!! John is no sort of New Age person. All he is saying is that many millions of human hearts throughout world history, in thousands of past and present human cultures, have yearned to draw closer to and understand the eternal mysteries of God the only way they could—through the unique filter of their own culture—so whatever they encountered in that yearning is going to look like their cultures in one way or another. Take a cultural anthropology class sometime. You will learn that there are very few of what we call “cultural universals” so few you can hold them in one hand. One of those cultural universals is that all human beings are drawn to something that acts magnetically on their hearts and pulls them towards this—and it has happened to all humans in all places—and it ends up getting expressed as religion. That “magnetic draw” is God tugging on the hearts of all men and saying—I love you—draw nearer so I can hug you. John is just exploring how other peoples and cultures have experienced that “magnetic draw” initiated by God himself in all human hearts and how it got expressed within assorted human cultures.

        Thanks Teresa

      • LG actually if you think about it God created everything right? So when David wrote Psalm 55 that said in verse 12 ““For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” was David being New Age-ish?

      • hi kathy…thanks for your post. I think it was God speaking to Isaiah when he said, “for ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” [ISA55:12]. Because the redemption that God offers, his people and his creation will break out in joyful singing. What a joyous day that will be.

      • oh yeah did I get the book wrong haha, but still, some people do find God in nature and feel His presence there. If God makes the trees clap their hands and the hills sing this is what some spiritual people feel when they are going for a hike. At least I do! And maybe they can’t connect what they feel besdie a lake with ‘Jesus Culture’ yet they are experiencing God. What do you think?

      • Kathy and LG –
        All I know is that when my wife goes to church on Sunday morning, I go for a walk though my sheep pasture (I listen to the sermon on podcast later that week). I don’t feel God’s presence in the church, but when I walk through the fields with the sound of wind whistling, the smell of manure composting, and the morning sun warming my skin I know that God exists and I am thankful for him.

        • Sounds like you’ve got God right where you want him, limited to the sheep pasture. Who needs other Christians when you’ve got your own personal line to God, right?

      • @ Theodore Michael Seeber

        “Sounds like you’ve got God right where you want him, limited to the sheep pasture. Who needs other Christians when you’ve got your own personal line to God, right?”

        I find your rhetoric ridiculous. If you don’t get it (which IMHO you clearly don’t), probably best not to say anything and just let it play out. If in the end it turns out that you’re right, I’m sure God will give you a nice pat on the back.

      • hi kathy…Of course I love nature, God’s creation. He made it for us to enjoy. I don’t try to set up spiritual experiences any more, and I stopped practicing yoga & contemplative meditation.. because I put too much value in the ‘experience’. I acted like God could be manipulated. Which is akin to witchcraft. I believe God blesses the godly & the ungodly (because he said it himself.)

      • LG, My reaction to your witchcraft comment is: why did you bring that up? I think we bring our own problems upon people through the personal fears and superstitions we hold on to. There is nothing more crazy than staring at a tree, then seeing a face, then interpreting it as a spectre- when the simple explanation is- you saw a visual illusion. And, by the way, ‘Experience’ is all we have. We are born wincing at the light, flailing our little pudgy arms, crying in confusion until another human being secures us in their embrace. We see, hear, feel and touch all through the faculties of our body. It’s our thoughts and desires that mess us up, not the body given to us and not God’s creation which testifies to His glory.

      • hi kathy…I’m just saying for –me– I let God bring the spiritual experiences in his own timing. I don’t attempt to conjure them up (any more) or practice divination. In every place in the bible, it is God that comes to man. As far as I understand the bible, God doesn’t appreciate it when I set up the time for Him to perform.

        One of my spiritual disciplines I’m working on, is to stop trying to control people (as if i could!). I show respect to people and GOD by not trying to control them, (manipulate them)…which is the same as witchcraft (controlling others by my own powers).

      • K- …yeah, blog posts while somewhat interesting & entertaining cause way more dis-unity, than unity. :-(. –sorry for that. We can agree on one thing. Christ is who he said he was, he’s coming back, and He’s preparing a place for his family in The New Jerusalem.

      • Ha! LG true 🙂 . Blog comments are the town squares of our modern times. As someone tweeted recently a “sewer”, even. However, people live mental and emotional sewers and drainage places because they have no one to flesh out the garbage they are burdened with. Garbage that is spoon fed to us through media, religious establishments, educational systems and political machines. Yet along with the garbage there is hope sprinkled all around us. Just like on this blog there are some beautiful outstanding comments which comfort and inspire the soul. But, you have to mine for it and sift through the dross. I think occasionally there are more precious gems on this blog then there is grit. This is how life works through us all. I have been on a few blogs and I’ve said some good things, some stupid things and got some things wrong- but the whole process of interacting with a variety of good, weird, unstable, stubborn, desperate, foolish, proud, irascible people has chipped away at my own human block of stone and I am happy to have encountered each one, even if I don’t understand everything they are trying to communicate. I know that if we met in person we would have a very interesting conversation. We find unity in Christ’s love. See you next time.

      • John’s thoughts are nice and make him feel “right”, but one can only have these thoughts if they totally throw out the entirety of God’s word.

      • LGMarshall If you read historical text regarding the evolution of Christianity you will see that the practice was far more mystical and spiritual than it is today. It’s important to contextualise and appreciate that after Jesus ascended to heaven his disciples were left with a dilemma – how should they now worship? Remember the disciples of Jesus were Jews and there was no established Christian church. Christianity, as a distinct practice to Judaism, came much later, and, by and large was totally moulded around human interpretation of events – a sort of make it up as you go along process. It is more than likely that the discples continued to worship as Jews who followed Jesus. That said I am more than convinced that Jesus Christ never intended for Christianity to become a religion, in fact I would go further and suggest that he viewed organised religion as somewhat missing the point of God’s infinite love. If we are to view Christian practice within the reflection of Jesus’ life on Earth, then Christianity becomes a journey of self discovery for everyone in the same way that it was for Jesus. This journey involves a deep, meaningful but at the same time personal relationship with God through Christ. Here, everyone’s journey is as valid as the next. What is important is your relationship with God and to never lose sight of the new commandment which Christ left us with and which gave us with some insight into the new covenant – to love one another as he loved us: that’s all! Unfortunately, in my opinion,what Christianity has become is a prefabricated one size fits all earth-bound institutionalised belief system which bears almost no relevance to its origins. Many modern day Christians appear to want to reincarnate the risen Lord in order ‘recapture’ him and somehow ‘possess’ him and subsequently use this possession as a power-house for control and indoctrination: an ego-based faith system, if you will. We live in new-covenant days and to reincarnate Jesus is to make a mockery of his resurrection. So, with respect, I cannot agree with your interpretation of the article posted. I found it incredibly inspiring and true to Christ’s life.

  1. Thank-you for writing these gracious words when I have been far too bitter and frustrated to extend myself. I want so badly to offer this same grace to those inside but I often fail to do so. I’m finally beginning to be able to move to that point after finding healing and community at Gracepointe (found them by stumbling upon a Vimeo of your time there).

  2. This is a different meaning of the word “prodigal” than I have previously been aware of.

    To me a prodigal is one who has returned to the fold, after discovering the darkness outside.

    What is your meaning of this word that you can describe yourself as a prodigal when you have not yet returned to the Father, to the Way of Life as opposed to the Way of Death?

    • It really is a mis-nomer, not because John hasn’t “returned”, but because he actually never left. A more accurate analogy would be John acting as Christ in the Temple, and those who tell him that he is “the Way of Death” are the Pharisees.
      He IS in the Father, you believe you ARE the Father. That’s the difference.

      • No, I believe that I am allowing the Son to write with my hands, see with my eyes, hear with my ears.

        What I hear from John is the reverse of the Lord’s Prayer: Not your Will Father, but MY will be done.

        I see nothing but arrogance in either side of the Evangelical Experiment to Erase History.

    • Teddy,Teddy…”the way of death” Really? You are not hearing Johns words. It’s really sad that so many institutionalized Christians have absolutely no capacity for criticlal thinking. Maybe, just maybe you don’t have the entire truth nailed down. Maybe everyone who leaves the club is just as entitled to to live out their faith as you feel you are.

      • I have the Teaching of the 12. That is enough for me to know the difference between The Way of Life and the Way of Death. Christians have known this for nearly 2000 years:
        http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html

        If you are not doing the will of God, if you have “left the club” and told God “Not your will be done, but MY will be done”, how can you claim to be living in faith at all? I would say you’re living in a lack of faith. Not in Authenticity, but in Intellectual Dishonesty, like the rest of the Americanist Heresy.

      • ????I love how the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament spoke to no-one but the LORD in the wilderness for 3yrs at start of his ministry. We all have our own private journey with the Lord who used a donkey to speak to Balaam and ravens to feed Elijah in the desert. They met in homes in Acts and loved each other sharing everything ????❤️????????We are the temple of the living God and Jesus is the head wherever He leads us. Hallelujah!!

      • Yes, so many organized religions seem to think they know God as well as they know what they have in their pantry. I don ‘t remember who said it but, “Trying to understand God is like trying to hold the ocean in a teacup” …

      • I am a bit confused about the inside/outside thing Either we recognize our brokenness, our sinful nature, and our need for a savior Or we don’t. Either we have Jesus and except his blood covering for our transgressions or we reject him. Jesus himself said , ” You are either for me or you are against me…if you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Any of the rest: our journeys, our philosophies, our meanderings, the sins we struggle with, the dry times when we are lost in the “desert” or the wilderness, our doubts, our annoyances with other Christians, and the times we are hypocritical ourselves, can all be valid, and painful, and joyful, and whatever they are to us. But they are not our salvation and never can be. No,, these things do not define us, nor could they. There is only one thing that defines us: either we have Jesus or we don’t. And if I have him, that makes me an insider. If I call myself an outsider I am making much of me, and little of him and his sacrifice and his unchanging love for me, which is never based on whether I deserve it or not, have questions or not, walk in perfect obedience or not, for I cannot. I pray you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit today whispering “you are mine ” and your joy will be renewed at realizing you are among The redeemed of the Lord.! And in that sense, you are privileged Beyond reasoning , to be called an insider. Blessings to you brother!

      • Either one is a ‘sheep’ or a ‘goat. Believer or Non-Believer. Those are God’s distinctions…not Man’s. . What I see is mostly on Pavlovitz’s blog is that non-Believers agree with him whole heartedly. His non-response to that issue is curious. Leads to me believe that he’s not making the distinction any more…and he considers all to be God’s Children. (even though God says some belong to their Father the Devil.)

        • I’m not sure how you come to this conclusion LG. I think there are some followers of John Pavlovitz blog who are non-believers, but I think most are believers, like me, who are no longer church goers and the “insiders” he speaks of are the church goers while the “outsiders” are those who still believe but have left the confines of the church. That’s my understanding.

      • It’s not the Christians place to run ideas or morality past the judgement bar of our intellect. It is the Christian’s position to believe the word of God and agree with God. It is God who uses these words and who is the Judge.

      • @Theodore

        With respect, I think you may be intellectualising Christianity. There is no secret formula hidden in scripture that will reverse the effect of the Fall, and, furthermore, if there was one, no human intellect would be able to decipher it. Christianity, in my opinion, is not about scriptural certainties but about a living, organic, spiritual relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ. The ‘certainties’ take the form of spiritual knowingness and this forms part of faith and part of the new spiritual covenant where, to be cleansed (‘saved’) comes through faith not deeds. Blessings and peace.

        • THe devil makes spiritual covenants to confuse the unwary. God is Truth, Mercy, and Justice- the perfect form of those is the true definition of Caritas- of Love. Where there are lies, there is no Love. Where there is no Mercy, there is no Love. Where there is no Justice, there is no Love.

          You can say I am over intellectualizing faith, but in your spirituality that contains no truth, only chaos, I do not see Christ, because there is no Love.

          Ultimately, that is what is wrong with these new gender studies in general- LGBT is based on a lie, the same lie that destroys love in unmarried heterosexual relationships. The lie that sex is for recreation rather than procreation. The lie that men and women are the same rather than different.

          Love cannot exist without honesty. You just prefer spiritual chaos because of a hatred for truth.

          • I have to say, Theo, that your version of “Truth” is very unplatable and does not resonate with love at all. I think you have a very dark, perverted, religious kind of love, perhaps very intellectual, of the head and nothing to do with the heart at all, that little resembles real love at all. Just my view. I could never accede to that sort of “Truth” or “love” that you advocate. But each to his own. Just glad I’m not in your camp.

            • At least I can count on Jesus Christ to never lie to me. I can’t say the same for Martin Luther, I can’t say the same for John Pavlovitz, I can’t say the same for anybody else.

              Is the truth “unattractive”? Is the truth “unpalatable”? Yes. False teachers tickle the ears and tell people what they want to hear- Prophets tell people what they do not want to hear and what they cannot understand. Just look at the Gospel of John Chapter 6, which most Protestants are still rebelling against, 2000 years later!

              Conversion to truth is hard. The road to salvation is narrow, the road to damnation is quite wide.

              • I totally agree concerning your trust issues and putting all your trust in Jesus Christ rather than any man.

                How, though can the “gospel”, which is truth, be unpalatable when it is the “good news”? I never knew good news ever to be unpalatable and nor did I ever know true love ever to be unplatable. Jesus is all about love rather than doctrine whereas you are hung up on doctrine but have forgotten love. I’m not sure what you are referring to in John 6 but I’m sure it will have a strong very orthodox traditional Catholic interpretation (which, of course, to you is the absolute truth rather than what it might actually say).

                • Most people hate anything that convicts them of their sin. They want to think all it takes to get to heaven is to be “good people”. They don’t want to think about the reality of hell. But the good news is only good because of the reality of hell. There can be no mercy without sin, no justice without unjustice. The good news is that we now have a path of repentance and forgiveness, IF we choose to take it.

                  I suggest reading James Chapter 2- it isn’t part of the gospels, but it is a part of the Bible. Faith alone is NOT enough. Conversion requires that we deny our own will, and in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done”, we bind ourselves to the will of God instead.

                  True love always requires sacrifice. But God desires not sacrifice, but mercy. And mercy is the good news- that no matter what sin we have committed, save being unrepentant, repentance is possible. Forgivness is possible.

                  All who are repentant are forgiven. And the good Christian forgives all the repentant, however many times it takes for conversion. The lack of forgiveness for the repentant, the confirming of people in sin that is the mark of chaotic spiritualism, is not love. It may feel good for a short time, but in the long run, it does far more harm than good. Instead, admit your sin, repent of it, be forgiven- and through that, convert to the will of God rather than the will of sin.

                  • Thank you for sharing that, Theo. There is little if anything that I would disagree with in that, though my views of some of those things might be rather different to your view. Nevertheless, for the first time I think we are close to agreeing. Bless you!

      • @Theodore Michael Seeber

        Theo, you are a religious bully who has little or no respect for other people’s views; in fact you show nothing but contempt for people who offer an alternative view to your own. You are nothing but an arrogant, self-centred religious Zealot. But you will not bully me into submission and I will not be deterred by your projection of disdain and hatefulness towards me. I sincerely hope you find peace one day.

    • When the Prodigal son returned, he returned from BEING prodigal.

      prod·i·gal
      ˈprädəɡəl/
      adjective
      1.
      spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
      “prodigal habits die hard”
      synonyms: wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, profligate, improvident, imprudent
      “prodigal habits die hard”
      2.
      having or giving something on a lavish scale.
      “the dessert was crunchy with brown sugar and prodigal with whipped cream”
      synonyms: generous, lavish, liberal, unstinting, unsparing; literarybounteous
      “a composer who is prodigal with his talents”
      noun
      1.
      a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.

      So, either way, it isn’t a fit description of John in a literal sense. In the Christian context it usually means that the one who went away from his father’s house and from under his father’s authority and squandered his interitance. Once he returned he was no longer prodigal.

    • So.. you don’t believe you are the Father… you believe you are the Son. While you are pointing a finger at others and accusing them of arrogance, realize there are four fingers pointing back on you.

      • I follow. Which is why I stick with traditional Catholicism, instead of striking out like a Protestant and forming a new church every time someone preaches something I find hard to hear.

        We are all called to be Christ to others. Maybe if we concentrated on repentance and mercy instead of sin and judgement, we would all be better off. But I cannot be merciful with the unrepentant. They have nothing to forgive, because for them, sin does not exist.

    • Here’s one definition of prodigal: “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.” We usually think it means wandering or returning to the fold as you said. But that is not the case. A dictionary has become one of my best friends.

    • If you’ve spent any time at all in the real world, you would understand that the ways of the heart are not so black and white. Faith and doubt can be part of the same coin, as evidenced by the quote “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” I believe it’s possible, even if not always comfortable, to live with the tension of faith and doubt, and any Christian who says they’ve never done this is flat-out lying.

      You mentioned in a different reply that you are a Catholic. You are aware that many evangelicals consider Catholics to not be “real Christians,” right? It must be pretty convenient to just write people off as heretics when they disagree with you, but you as a Catholic ought to know better. Guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the forbidden tree.

      • Traditional morality is not based in “the ways of the heart”. Traditional morality is based on passing down stories of lifestyles that were tried and found to fail. Near as I can tell, all those who want to push me out of the church- who want me to abandon tradition- are advocating a culture of making the same mistakes every heresy before them has.

        I know too much history to think that the sexual revolution OR the capitalist liberal revolution is viable. The Protestant Reformation itself was the worst mistake to happen to Christianity in 2000 years, as proven by the fact that no two Christian denominations can even agree on a definition of love, let alone “Be One as I and the Father are One”. I know that the Great Apostasy did not happen, so why should I believe any more of this moral relative “I don’t like what God has taught so I’m going to form my own religion” stuff?

        • No, that’s not at all relevant to what I said. “The ways of the heart” refers to understanding God’s ways, and unfortunately it’s not that simple to understand everything that is mandated in Scripture. I have a difficult time accepting hell, for example. The very concept goes against what my heart tells me justice looks like. I will struggle with that concept for the rest of my life, along with plenty of other things. What I see John doing on his blog is wrestling with the things that don’t make sense. That’s not the same as “turning his back on God” to form his own religion. I’m sorry if that’s how you see it, but I’m rather jealous of your certainty.

      • “LORD, I believe, help my unbelief” is a commitment to believe God whether it makes sense to us or not! God is always right, and we are only right when we agree with God.

      • @Beth Caplin

        Beth, God experiences the purity in your heart and this is what God is interested in, not in intellectualised clever arguments which desperately attempt to decipher scripture; because, guess what..? no human mind can do that, however intelligent. A lot of the posts I read sound so full of fear and project an element of control and mind manipulation – do as I say through my interpretation of the Bible or your fate is sealed – This is not Christianity Beth. God is more interested in your intentions and not your understanding of scripture. At the risk of being too controversial I honestly think God would prefer a world full of atheists who are kind, loving, peaceful and look after each other than a world full of Christians who believe they have all the answers. Big hug and thanks for your honest and heart-felt post.

        • In other words, by your standard, Christ should have been aborted in the womb, because a world of atheists would be better than a world of Christians.

          As I remember history- a Russian Orthodox Priest tried imposing your suggestion by law. The result was 20 million people executed.

      • @Theodore Michael Seeber

        Feel free to twist, manipulate and warp my words at you leisure. But know that your words are not my words! I think most people sharing here are sensitive and discerning enough to see right through your intentions; or at the very least show respect for alternative perspectives whether in agreement with them or not. I hope you find peace.

        • There is no peace this side of the grave without the certainty of the Mother Church that is the home of the Once and Future King, Jesus Christ and his Vicar the Pope.

          • So, do you think that people such as myself (I am a 6’2″ black woman [referring to another comment regarding The Donald – if he is an Evangelical, then I’m a petite Russian ballerina ] should still be picking cotton and being beaten with bullwhips because NOTHING IS EVER SUPPOSED TO CHANGE AND AUTHORITY (and SLAVERY, was a part of AUTHORITY, at one point) IS SACROSANCT????

            What frustrates me about Roman Catholics such as yourself is a DISREGARD for the sensus fidelium in the laity, for thinking that the Church is entombed in amber, NEVER TO CHANGE BECAUSE AUTHORITY SAYS SO – seems to me that the LORD JESUS CHRIST was more concerned with the ACTUAL living, breathing human beings around Him bring crushed by Mosaic, RELIGIOUS Law – an interpretation that would let people starve, or not be healed on the Sabbath because of TRADITION AND SLAVISH following of RELIGION.

            Being CATHOLIC is more important to you than FOLLOWING JESUS – who was CRITICIZED for not following the LETTER of the Law, but being the embodiment of its SPIRIT

            Grrrrrrrrrr – it’s this robotic Catholicsm that makes me barely able to sit through Mass these days…………….

    • The word “prodigal” is being used as something he is (mis)labeled. It is a reference to the biblical story of the prodigal son, something that those on the inside would likely view him as, one who has left and will one day return.

      Even in your own question is the wording “not yet returned to the father,” which really misses the point he is making yet illustrates well what he expects people to misunderstand.

      The Father is everywhere, not just on the inside, and so the prodigal son story does not actually apply. God is bigger than the fold you are in.

  3. “They are not labels deserving of me or my journey, or any of those out here with me who are seeking and searching with as much care and integrity and diligence and faith as you are there.”

    Thank you…… I’ve felt this way for several years now and this post sums up so well where I am at. I am so tired of feeling ashamed for questioning, for wanting more, for not buying in to all those aspects of faith that have been derived, conceived and/or implemented over the ages by man. There is so much of Christianity to me that is not of God.
    I’m not certain, I’m not solid, is that so bad or so wrong? Because I question the criteria, the dogma, the pomp and circumstance, the sometime narrow perspective of “religion” does not make me a non-believer, a heretic. I’m searching, I’m trying, isn’t that in and of itself enough?

    • It is the questioning that we grow. If we don’t seek to know more, to expand our knowledge and our faith then we grown dim and stale on the inside. It isn’t enough to know and practice dogma. It is essential for the spirit and the mind to explore and question. Just because you do doesn’t mean you dont’ have faith or believe. Your journey to faith is between you, Christ and ultimately God.

      • Wow, thank you for that perspective. I entirely did NOT get that from John’s original post.

        Yes, I very much support digging deeper into the 2000 years of Church history- particularily the pre-Reformation history.

        What I don’t support is “spiritual without God” wandering into sin spiraling down into darkness and despair. I want very much to save people from practices that we already know to be dangerous.

    • Your journey sounds like mine. I would say that wrestling implies you are trying to understand and not give up. I would hope that God much prefers that over quitting the faith entirely. If God’s grace is as big as I’m told it is, then I have to believe there is room for the doubters at his table.

    • I mean no disrespect at all…to me ‘still searching’ is just a different way of saying; ‘I reject Jesus’.

      One doesn’t have to search for Jesus. [He searches for us]. There is a church on every corner & a free bible in every hotel room. Jesus longs to hear. us say..”I give up!”

    • No. It is not enough. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and come and follow me. Jesus told him that because He knew the man’s first desire was his money and Jesus wanted him to be willing to give it up for Him. Well, homosexuality does not fall in the category of money in that money is not inherently wrong to have. However, one has to be willing to turn from that which God calls sin in order to have assurance of one’s salvation. “If you love me, obey all that I have instructed you.”

      • Only problem here is that God does not call homosexuality sin, only man does that. Or maybe woman called Rhonda does that, not God. And no, its not what the Word says, it’s the way you read it that makes you decide on what is sin or not. Besides which, why should you be so concerned about this unless you think you are gay. Are you?

        • Actually, nature does that, because two eggs or two sperm does not a new human make. ONLY heterosexuality is procreative. I don’t need a Bible to show that homosexuality is selfish and abusive, just like every other form of contraceptive sex (yes, including the infertile marriage- without the intent to have a child, there is no purpose in sex other than to objectify the other person).

            • It’s very clear- even in bacteria and viruses- that the purpose of life is to beget life. This is the earliest commandment in the Bible- Be fruitful and multiply- and it covers every living being.

              I’m not surprised this is controversial among those who practice The Way of Death from the Didache, however.

      • Rhonda, that’s not what that verse means. In fact, the way you quoted it isn’t even what it SAYS. You’ve COMPLETELY reinterpreted it. It says (in English), “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” However, the English language often does a poor job of communicating Greek verb tenses and sentence construction. This phrase is NOT a conditional statement, as in “PROVE you love me by keeping my commandments.” It is a promise or declaration, similar to the Beatitudes. It says, “WHEN you love me, you will AUTOMATICALLY keep my commandments.” It’s describing something that WILL happen when you learn to love God in a relationship with Him. Because LOVE is the heart of ALL the commandments, as Jesus said in other places. Learning to love (because you realize how much you ARE loved) is what drives your ability to “keep the commandments”. The “prove you love me by doing this or that.” is performance-based religion that attempts to “please” God by being “good” or performing “service” (denying oneself, etc.). It smacks grace in the face and demands “payment” to God beyond what the cross provided.

        The rich young ruler was asked to sell all his stuff not because riches are “bad”, but because Jesus could see into his heart that his riches were keeping HIM from loving properly. He loved his riches (or his self-sufficiency) more than other people. That’s why HE needed to rid himself of that obstacle (or at least be WILLING to). WHATEVER keeps us from loving needs to be given up in order to fully love and place our trust in God.

        Frankly, I don’t see homosexuality as doing that by it’s nature. Just as in heterosexual sexual relations, certainly it CAN be a source of “distraction” from experiencing true love, but that’s a misrepresentation of the place of sex in our lives, not specifically homosexuality. It’s committed RELATIONSHIPS based in love that God desires us to have. Those can be had JUST as significantly in homosexual relationships as they can in hetero. The homosexual practices that are condemned by the “law” (that, btw, we no longer are living under — just thought I’d throw that out there).were SEXUAL practices that usually involved worship of pagan deities via male prostitutes. It was the WAY that homosexuality was PRACTICED (at that time) that made it wrong, just as the WAY that the man held ONTO his riches that was the problem, not the homosexuallty, or the riches, THEMSELVES. Whatever keeps us from loving properly needs to be reprioritized in our lives, whether that be wealth or sex or even a strong desire for people to live “rightly” before God. LOVE is the goal and the ONLY yardstick that we should use to measure the efficacy of our faith.

        • Sexual love in keeping with God’s plan for humanity is procreative. Anything else, is just abuse. I can’t describe contraceptive marriage as anything other than rape- and homosexual marriage is as contraceptive as getting sterilized. Maybe more so.

          • In several parables, Jesus indicates a place for human reason….in the parable of the ten virgins, five were called wise for having brought extra oil for their lamps…in another, he says that a king who sees s greater force coming against him considers if he has enough resources to engage, or if he should pursue terms of peace….not every couple is supposed to have 20 children; some couples should not have children at all; others are unable to conceive.

            Is there no room between a couple and God to decide what size a family should be? And would you be among those hurling perjoratives at “lazy moochers wanting the state to support their large family????”

            Humankind is called to be wise stewards of Earth and not to exhaust every resource in sight – was humankind not to use God-given reason to develop medicines, agriculture, science and technology to improve life and extend the human lifespan?

            • Follow God, not humanity. Give God control over your fertility instead of taking control yourself- the soul he wants to introduce you to just might be the one that saves you later on.

              • I will respectfully disagree and say that there are times and situations in which God does call upon humankind to act..

                But Moses said to the people, ‘ Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent
                Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward’

                Exodus 14:13-15

                Why couldn’t Israel just sit back and let God dispatch the Egyptians without getting involved? We say that God provides, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to login to my company’s network and do database administration – I have to read Oracle and AIX manuals, and figure out how to do (and not do) things. Should women just have child after child after child (it takes about three years to recover from a birth). What about ectopic pregnancies? Toxemia? Other birth complications? My sister died in 1957 from a congenital heart defect that today would be corrected in utero – or should a “blue baby” (that was the term used then) just be allowed to die because God is supposed to intervene and not a neonatal cardiologist?

                It’s not either/or, but both/and – Man working out things before God, using faith AND reason

                Peace be with and upon you

                • This is grade school stuff, or at least, it was once.

                  1. Q. Who made the world?
                  A. God made the world.

                  2. Q. Who is God?
                  A. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

                  3. Q. What is man?
                  A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

                  6. Q. Why did God make you?
                  A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

                  9. Q. What must we do to save our souls?
                  A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in
                  Him, and love Him with all our heart.

                  10. Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
                  A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

                  • It’s hardly grade school, unless you are simply repeating what you have been taught. Let’s start with #1 and #2. I agree with you, but how do you know? I guess it’s because the Catholic Church told you so. Of course, they at one time said the Pope was infallible too. As for #3, man was actually made in the image and likeness of the Elohim, not God. Of course, the Catholic Church has taught you otherwise I’m sure. With respect to #6, the Bible says that if you were a man you were created to till the garden (of Eden, that is). If you were a women, you were created to keep man from being lonely. #9 – I’m no expert on the Catholic faith but my Catholic friends always told me that one’s actions (good works) were very important as well. #10 – The source of all the confusion and misunderstanding. You see, it’s hardly grade school, now is it?

                    • To be exact, the doctrine of infallibility defines when the Pope is fallible. In all but a very small number of instances, he is. There have been 9 infallible pronouncements in 2000 years.

                      As for your reference to the Elohim- I am not a Gnostic and I reject Gnosticism in all of its forms as a false self-serving religion.

                      I am a Catholic, not a fundamentalist without a brain, so I know that the Bible was written by the Catholic Chuch and it says what the Catholic Church says it says.

                      The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are what God wants us to do- Actions are important, because they are what we do if we love God.

                      What I posted was for children- because that is how I see Protestant faith, as childish and undeveloped. It very much is grade school stuff in Catholicism- stuff you should know if you want to claim to be Christian. It is the basics, stuff every 6 year old knows.

                    • To be exact, the doctrine of infallibility is not infallible. Believers are taught that it is infallible by the very people who created the doctrine. As a result, only Catholics believe in that doctrine, and then only certain Catholics as many Catholics do not agree with church dogma on that issue. As for the Elohim, you don’t need to be a Gnostic (which I am not) to know what it means. Contrary to what you claim, the Bible was not written by the Catholic Church although they did compile it and they did decide which scriptures were to be included or excluded from the first Bible. In any event, they certainly didn’t write the Old Testament since the Old Testament is actually a Hebrew text and the word Elohim is a Hebrew word.

                    • Catechisis in the Catholic Church has been really bad for about 40 years now. You clearly do not understand the doctrine of infallibility- I suggest looking up the minutes of Vatican I, they’re available online.

                      The Roman Catholic Church is a branch of Judaism. Both Greek and Hebrew, as well as Latin, are a part of the Mass.

            • Also, no, I’m one of those who says we should sacrifice the stock market to make sure WIC is fully funded and no longer means tested- for every child between the ages of conception to age 20.

          • I’m sorry you choose to subscribe to such a utilitarian, single-minded, puritanical way of looking at sex. I suppose you also believe that sex only feels good because God thought otherwise we’d never do it and have children. I feel sorry for your partner, dude.

            • Not only that, but in the long run, I find non-procreative sex to be incredibly painful once the breakup happens. Some people may be able to handle it, but I sure can’t, and I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t a sociopath who could.

              For that reason, Divorce is *always* a bad idea.

      • @Theodore Michael Seeber

        Theodore, are you an internet Troll? If so could you please go to another website (something a little more tabloid might suit you better) and allow room for intelligent critical-thinking and sensitive debate to progress within the context of John’s posts. Thank you, and once again I sincerely hope you find peace and joy in life.

  4. Welcome to the side I’m on. The slope isn’t slippery as it doesn’t depend on the words of so many who say they speak the truth and still seem to contradict each others. I’ve been here on the side of science and rationality even before I realized it.

  5. This is one of the finest pieces of understanding of what it means to seek God that I have ever read. Thank you! I hope that it will be a spark to a real discussion of what it means to be on this journey of life toward an eternity that only the Divine really knows. Peace, Amelia Price

    • This is amazing, I am astounded with these words. My take on the journey exactly. Thank you. You are speaking to an ever-growing spiritual faction, who were once “inside” and are now blessed to be “outside” where the air is clear and there is no longer any fear of doing it “wrong.”

      • EXACTLY ! NICE TO KNOW THERE ARE MANY OF US WAKING UP FROM THE ETHER & I’M SURE JOHN IS ENCOURAGED BY THOSE WHO ARE WAKING UP TO THEIR GODLINESS

  6. Thank you again for articulating what so many of us who have stepped outside of the traditional mainstream confines of organized religious groups feel and experience as we discover there is more than one path to enlightenment and self actualization. We are ALL made of God stuff, God is in us, around us and in everything and in everybody. I too have been guilty of judging those who claim there is only ONE way to believe and to worship as ignorant, narrow minded and short sighted. I am reminded of what someone shared with me when I first stepped out on my quest and that is the old adage “if they knew better, they’d do better” and of course Einstein’s sage advise to never ever stop questioning everything. Many blessings and much peace as you travel your glorious path.

    • Barbara,
      I am sorry that you felt you had to leave. Jesus said, ‘Do not judge, lest you be judged.’ He never meant for you to be driven away. Please consider the woman in John 8. Jesus would not throw a stone when organized religion would. And his confrontation with the religious leaders got them to drop their own stones. He protected the wounded, the victim. And that’s still his heart.

      • Delgado,

        Considering you don’t know the full details of Barbara’s situation your comment may not be applicable or helpful. Let Jesus continue to confront the religious leaders but let us be free to pursue Him. We are much better off in the fields with Jesus as our Shepard than we are cooped up in a box by people holding stones.

  7. I was Christian for 45 years. At 4, crying, I begged Jesus to “come into my heart” because the fear of Hell had been put upon me. We as a family did church twice on Sunday, prayer meeting, choir, youth services etc. I went away to Bible missionary camp every summer till I was 13. At age 12 I was very small in size. I was raped by 2 married missionaries at camp in Toccoa Falls, Ga. No one would believe me or the blood in my underwear and I was ostracized and punished. I was punished a second time by my zealot mother for lying and embarrassing the family. I attended a private Baptist school and was routinely made to be embarrassed because I was a bit different. At age 18 my parents dumped me to the curb quite violently and with enough screaming that the neighbors came out to watch. 2 old white haired ladies helped me pick my things off the lawn once they had cleared the upstairs windows. They gave me hugs and kisses and wiped the blood off of my face. My mother had beaten me in the face with our very large family Bible.

    I was taken in by a wonderful United Methodist minister and his wife who showed some of the first, selfless love I had every had. They told me that I was gay and Jesus loved me more than ever. The first time I had ever felt that. I became a part of their family and after 35 years I still am.

    I have been beaten, raped, robbed, evicted and fired by “good Christians” who abused me with plastic, God loves you smiles even as they harmed me. I also have experienced love gifted by REAL Christians….no quotes needed. My point is that there are good people and bad people in life. Religion just tends to bring out the extremes in both kinds.
    At age 48 I had a personal epiphany and completely dismissed all religions forever. I finally have peace and it has lasted undisturbed for almost 6 years now. Peace to you.

    • So sorry that happened to you. I am so glad you were found and comforted and taken in. God was with you that day. It may not have seemed like it at the time. But, he was. May your peace stay with you always.

    • This is what I’m talking about. I left Christianity permanently because of the arrogance, meanness, abuse and isolation. My mother was addicted to Apostolic Pentecostalism and didn’t want to see what was happening around her. That ‘church’ eventually destroyed my family. It was nothing but emotional manipulation and fear. You’re never good enough for god nor people. The one person who should have defended me and protected me did not. Things got worse when I developed DID and PTSD.

      I tried to conform but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be that kind of person I saw. I left mum’s church for Eastern Orthodoxy, but eventually I realised Christianity was not for me, so I left.

      I am an Asatruar / Heathen now. My biggest struggle now is to not let my past make me hate Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians.

    • I’m so sorry for how awful you were treated by the people you should have been able to trust to love you, serve you and protect you! Your story makes me cry. It truly does. I was abused by a family of atheists. I guess I should count myself lucky as it wasn’t nearly as confusing as it would have been to have grown up in your house. Your parents are horrible examples of Christianity. They should be beat about the head and face with their own Bible. Peace to you too dear one.

      • I’m sorry you met up with cruel Atheists. My Dad came around before he died. I stayed with him the last 42 days of his life and bathed, fed, changed and comforted him. He died in my arms. Possibly the most precious moment of my life.

    • …and to you, Keith. We who have been harmed spiritally and physically by the Catholic and/or Protestant religions are able to see the real state of affairs clearly and escape completely from dogma fueled by hatred–and maybe, deep down, fueled by unconscious envy, having denied themselves a peace they will not be able to attain in their close-minded state. It takes courage to look the truth square in the face, but tbere is a reward for those who do.

      • Carol, i totally agree, back in Center Line High if you were a Catholic all other religions were wrong, Unfortunately everyone thought the same way. your old HS friend, Michael Surant

    • Clerical abuse is a sin, whether it leads to grooming in sexual permissivity or not. What was done to you is a crime.

      45 years may be beyond the statute of limitations, but I urge you to publish your experience. The only way I see forward from here to expel the smoke of Satan from the church is complete transparency.

    • @Kieth Cumbie

      Keith, I’m lost for words after reading your post. I’m so sorry you went through all that. May your life continue to be filled with much love, peace, joy and happiness. Blessings to you.

  8. On the “inside” everything is defined for you. There are few, if any, decisions, that you have to make on your own. It’s a very safe environment. On the “outside”, there is no roadmap (i.e. holy book) and there are not many fellow travelers on the road to get directions/help from. It is a scary environment, at least at first. However, the road becomes more comfortable the longer that you are on it. Just remember, life is not a destination, it’s a journey. Life is not meant to be defined anyway, it’s to be experienced.

    • This is so true! You are so right. I think that one of the main reasons people linger in faiths that no longer serve their purpose is the safety of being told what to do.

      Similarly people follow medical and education advice from the “experts”. Deciding for oneself can be terrifying. But at the same time it is an essential part of the human experience.

      • Yes, and they also use it as an excuse not to challenge their minds to think; they are terrified to go down that road. I know as I used to be like that. I wanted to stay in my safe little box. I didn’t have to adventure into the great Mystery.

  9. Pingback: A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside | A Scheltered Life

  10. Pingback: A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside | LifeInCocoon

  11. Christianity… I wonder what Jesus thinks of it.

    My concern for people when they walk away from the Church, from “Christianity,” is that I miss experiencing with them the spirit of Jesus in them. It’s supposed to be a shared thing, this working out of our sinfulness, this move toward holiness with each other AND Jesus AND the Holy Spirit. And sure, it’s hard. And Jesus told us not to judge, lest we be judged. Stuff happens, and WITHOUT Jesus and WITHOUT the Holy Spirit, the Church hurts it’s own, agreed. But we’re meant to love each other in person. When the offended party keeps walking away, the offenders don’t learn to love.

    Christianity and “church” would be radically different if we spent amazing amounts of time in John, chapters 13-17. Watching Jesus love. Watching Jesus serve. Watching Jesus pray for unity. Hearing the promise of the Holy Spirit as the comforter and the guide into all truth…

    To offended parties: I am sorry for what was done to you in the name of Jesus. I am very sorry.

    • Sharing does not need to be done in a building. I fellowship with ppl in many different ways every day. The Disciples were out in the field, that’s where I choose to be.

    • Delgado,

      Two things come to mind after reading your comment, First of all you proved my point that ‘so called ‘ Christians fail to take responsibility for their terrible actions. ‘Stuff happens’ is not appropriate for offences that are downright criminal OR flagrantly harmful to a persons well being. Secondly if you are a follower of Christ you are ‘church’ already, so there is nothing wrong with leaving a congregation, an organized religious sect or a denomination.

      • No. You’re right. ‘Stuff happens’ is not a sufficient detailing out. Sorry.
        One of my main concerns with the original post was that there was no mention of Jesus at all. I shouldn’t have glossed over hurts. I wanted to focus on Jesus. Sorry.

        • ah, Delgado, I see. Thanks for explaining. It’s a good point. One thing that has occurred to me through the experiences I have had in life is that focusing on Christ, is good and right, However, if in the experience of adoring Christ we sometimes forget to love and honor people our efforts to love Christ are vain. As well we tend to impose our efforts to focus on Christ by imposing on other people’s reality, especially when they don’t give us permission to. For example what reason do we have to tell anyone they are not using the name of Jesus enough? How do you know what their thoughts are? I think many Christians have an over active conscience towards God at the expense of showing love towards our neighbour. When we do this we are not following the second great commandment.

    • The ‘offended party’ doesn’t always walk away. Often, they are ‘invited to leave’ (I’m being nice here!). One would think that there would also be a lesson learned by the insiders when they see one, sometimes many, leave. But unfortunately the lesson learned and perpetuated from the pulpit is usually “God is cleansing/purifying His Body of the dross”, leading insiders to ‘love’ their insular, exclusive and arrogant faith systems even more because they perceive the exit of ‘backsliders’ as God’s continuing protective care over the church.

      • Wow. That seems to reflect a lot upon the leadership. I’m not saying people shouldn’t leave, especially if they need to seek more sanctified leadership, but this reminds me of Paul’s request to pray for all leaders.
        I have not had the experience of being led by the type of leadership you mention. I have found myself again and again under people who make continuous request of those they are leading: “pray for me/us.”
        May we all find humble, loving fellowship.

      • thanks exbaker couldn’t have said it better myself. I heard a sermon in which the minister said the worst thing happening to the church right now is gay people causing problems and they should be rooted out and afterwards had everyone join in prayer to ask God to ‘cleanse’ His church of gays.

  12. Reponses on this page frustrate me, some come a cross as “I am right and you are wrong”. There is no living person who’s “theology” matches God’s. We are fallen ppl in a fallen world and we are shaped by everything around us. We all walk in the light given to us, we are not wrong nor are we right, we are doing & being exactly what God wants us to.
    If some of us are called out from religion then that’s exactly where we are to be. I found vast freedom in finally believing and understanding the God is 100% sovereign. Nothing I do, say nor think changes God’s plan one bit. We are supposed to love each other, period. Why is that so hard to do?

  13. It takes a brave soul to step out of religious ritual, to explore the notion that there might be a better way to be in true relationship with God. Every word you speak, are words that have been screaming from the depths of my being, since I left organized religion some 20 years ago. It has been a very lonely path, because all my “friends” and family disowned me when the scales fell off my eyes and I realized the hypocrisy I had been involved in all along. I truly thought I was the ONLY one in the world who dared to believe the words I hear speak you daily. I’ve been thrown a life preserver and I’m hanging on for dear life. Please keep speaking the truth. For some of us, you’re all we have. The religious have cast us out. May God’s blessings continue to rest upon you.

  14. Thank you. This is wonderful and is not only my path, but how I feel, just not in words that came from my mouth. My path is just as if not more full on the outside than it was on the inside. My faith is more consuming here on the outside, but in a wonderful way. My prayer time has grown here too, perhaps I felt a little more like when others were praying out loud on the inside, it lessened my need to pray myself. Having gone through the death of both parents, one by cancer the other suicide, and now having a suicidal husband due to chronic pain and depression, I no longer ask “Why me?” but rather “Why Not Me.” I personally feel I’m touching more and helping more people today than I ever have, especially on the inside. Perhaps rather than letting the cloak of being an insider has been removed and now, I spend more precious time making sure any and everyone can SEE GOD through me, not my cloak.

  15. Amen to you, John, a thousand times!!!
    How absolutely accurate you are and how “dumbed down” it is on the inside. The inside surely is nothing more than money, power and control; man if you don’t control the supporters the “ministry” itself will likely ‘go-to-hell’ not literally of course because there is no such place except in the brains of the brain-washed.

  16. A lovely thoughtful letter. This response isn’t so much to you, as to certain others who love Jesus – but no longer are active with a local church:

    A letter from a backsliding, prodigal heretic, on the inside, to my Christian friends on the outside:
    “… it isn’t an either/or — either being in church or being out in the world – Christians are called to both”
    See: “Spiritual But Not Giving A Damn?” – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2013/03/spiritual-but-not-giving-a-damn/

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity”

  17. We rely on the map when we don’t know the way. Relying on the map is safe and its routes match up with many things in the real world, but deciphering it can be problematic. And sometimes it doesn’t allign with the actual terrain, because the landscape is always changing while the map, well, it’s been around a while. By now, you know the map backwards and forwards anyway. But people hold tightly to its accuracy because so much of it really is helpful, and true. And they cling to those truths, because they have not had the experience of discovering any of their own. But that detour you took out of the blue one day? Breathtaking. It changed your whole outlook. This 3-dimensional landscape blows that paper copy out of the water.

    God may have inspired the bible, but his actual creation – this life – is boundlessly expressive and grows more beautiful with each new turn. Look again. Isn’t it magnificent?

  18. I started as a GARBC (“Us” vs “Everyone Else” Baptist), after accepting Jesus on 3 October 1975 (read one of those Jack T. Chick tracts). Never felt a part of any church that I was in….attended Baptist, Assembly of God, several non-denominational churches (including the Anaheim Vineyard)…felt at home (for a while) in the large Catholic church in my town, but for the last several years, have felt increasingly uncomfortable and alienated. Have been attending a small LCMS Lutheran church, but still feel alienated and unwanted…I resonate with a good deal of what John Pavlovitz writes – God is so much bigger than the constant “sin-and-salvation” emphasis, God is so much more than conventional morality….politics..human endeavors……….

    “And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

    Clive Staples Lewis, ‘The Last Battle’

    I’m hoping that Heaven will be like Narnia, Middle Earth and The Federation…..and waay better than all of them!!!

  19. To leave behind man-made doctrine and dogma that has crept into the church over centuries is NOT to be a heretic. You are returning to Christianity’s true roots in the theology of Jesus. NO apology necessary.

    • Yep. There is a whole lot of “Rot Doctern.” Last night, I read the history of how the whole notion of a “Pre-tribulation Rapture” came into being over the past few hundred years. What a crock of crap!!! You have to read it to believe it—and then just shake your head in wonderment.

      Jesus is coming back someday in some way is good enough for me. Spare me all the man-made crap.

      • Hi Dover, I really enjoy your input on this blog. Your responses are clever, thoughtful, and painfully honest. Very funny too, depending on the receiver. But I’m wondering, what makes your faith more legitimate than those you poke fun of? Aren’t we all clinging to some story or another? Doesn’t it seem silly to spend so much time arguing about who’s story is true? Maybe all of them are, mabe none are. Does it really matter?

        I’m sincerely curious. Everyone is starting to sound the same here, (myself not excluded). The only differences are what make us individuals – creativity, intellect, personality type, etc. Nevertheless, they’re all stories we choose to believe or reject, and based on which way we choose is how our lives unfold.

        What do you say?

      • @dover1952 I’m not asking that at all. You should never have to explain yourself to anyone, and whether “I were God” or not, I wouldn’t change a thing about you. You are exactly as you were made to be. I honestly would like to know how you have arrived at the conclusion that your beliefs are correct, or do you ever question them? It’s such a human thing (to think our views are right) but I don’t think people consider what that really means nearly enough, and the disputes rage on. This question I’m putting out there is for everyone really, I just asked you specifically because I’m interested in your response. You seem like an articulate guy with some sense. Compassion even. Or who knows, maybe you’re always bluffing. Either way, this is an issue I’ve been wrestling with for years concerning my own faith (or lack thehreof) and I’d just really like a straight answer from someone. Haven’t gotten one yet. No pressure;)

        • Hi Carmen. It might be best to do this by e-mail. My address is tcbkjbbrown@comcast.net. I already owe Kathy an e-mail message, so I might just send the response to both of you. Just send me a message so I will know your address. And no, I am not Ted Bundy. My wife and two children can sign off on that if you like. I might just like to say some private things I would not want others here to read.

  20. Ahhh, it’s good to feel the company of others on this expansive journey – thank you! As Thomas Merton said, “If the you of 5 years ago, doesn’t think the you of today is a heretic, you’re not growing spiritually.”

  21. Hmmmmm; darkness. Hmmmm. Psalm 139:11,12 “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light’- For you darkness itself is not dark and night shines as the day. [Darkness and light are the same.]” The NEW CATHOLIC Translation, c.1987

  22. Thank you – beautifully put.
    I suspect that I have “wandered” far further than you, and still feel connected, still feel on a path towards light – brilliant light! And yes, “there is laughter and discovery and warmth and community and goodness and grace—and God” here – so much MORE than I ever knew, or imagined, and so much Love and health. Authentic trumps “right” and Loving trumps “Biblical” every time.
    Oh how I wish your words were heard more often, and that I had heard them…
    Bless you!
    Alex

    • Love does trump Biblical every time because that is what Jesus intended for it to do when he dissolved the old covenant. He gave us all a spiritual Tootsie Roll Pop, but most of mankind inside the church and outside the church is afraid to lick it. Only those who dare to lick it can ever experience the flavors Jesus set aside just for them.

  23. I am with you, John. And following Jesus on the “outside” is so much better than all my years on the inside. Now I am free to love and celebrate that God made my gay daughter and her girlfriend exactly as He intended them to be, and my transgender friend is not judged, but “becomes Jesus” to me as she brings my family a meal while I’m struggling with my third round of cancer. Thanks be to God for life on the outside! And thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ that His love reaches everywhere–inside and out.

  24. John said: “So trust me when I tell you I understand why you use these words for me now. I know they give you some comfort and offer some sense of control, so I don’t take offense at them and I don’t have malice toward you for using them.

    I know why they use those words for you now. They are a bunch of two-bit, Satan-led pricks that deserve a Holy butt-kicking. They don’t get any sense of control. They just want to feel they are God’s exclusive little Tiggers, and as we all know, Tigger is the ONLY ONE. All they want is to look like they are superior to their fellow man and then Lord that assumed superiority over other men—when Jesus told them to do just the opposite—to not exalt themselves—because such exaltation will end in getting your sorry ass debased.

    John can take the high road with these people if He likes, but the pigs are still going to do what Jesus said they would do when pearls of spiritual wisdom are dropped in front of them—turn around and rend the person who offered the pearls of wisdom. If their behaviors were not so pathetic…

  25. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
    What a breath of fresh air. I’ve always thought that the purpose of life IS the JOURNEY and you are on it.
    Blessings.

  26. Thank you John! You have spoken the truth so well. I spend a significant part of my own ministry trying to undo the damage done by those who are so absolutely certain that they have all the correct answers and that everyone else is wrong. I’ve found that those who so ferociously quote Scripture and use it as a club are often those who have never actually read the book! When you keep the beautiful words of Scripture in the context of the time of their writing and in the context of each narrative, you get a much more accurate picture of what the narratives and God’s message are all about.

    I do not claim to have all the answers. I don’t even know anyone who has all the answers. I may be completely wrong about some issues. The same applies to all of us. But when I stand before my Maker I will rely on a central message of God’s story: Mercy and forgiveness. God has always promised us forgiveness and understanding. And for those of us mortals, what more can we ask? We can in no way know all that God has in store for us….such is the nature of faith.

    Thank you again for your honesty and integrity.

      • Ahh, purgatory. For me, this gets to the heart of the matter . Perhaps it’s me, but the real topic that isn’t addressed in all this dialog is the concept that many are coming to understand that the God portrayed and defined by Augustine, Jerome et al is not the God of the Bible. The Giant Zeus like nasty schizophrenic God does not exist. Kinda like purgatory. And we really don’t care what orthodoxy thinks. We are placing our trust in a Person, the person of Jesus. We are opting out of your definition, your religious definitions and are embracing Jesus and we are choosing to believe Him , not what some theologian SAYS Jesus means . We are embracing Love, and once that happens, all fear leaves .

        • Your reading of the Bible has nothing to do with actually following Christ or Obedience to God. It is just whatever you want to do, no different than any atheist.

    • @Theodore Muchael Seeber

      And here we go again…the gospel according to Theodore. Get a life mate and please drink some of Dover’s prune juice!

  27. Oh, thank you! You have put into such eloquent and clear words what I known since I was a child. I had a vision as a child of Jesus walking through the sky…I’m 73 now, and still remember the awe of that 4 year old child. What I’ve known all my life is “Jesus” or what my child self labeled as Jesus, but might better be called “love” walks with me wherever I go. In Church, out of Church no difference. No sense of right or wrong about it either….that presence would walk into a gambling casino as well as a church.

  28. There seems to be a division on this page. There are those who feel that God spoke his last words some 1600 years ago, and then moved on. There there are those who feel that God still speaks, and is still revealing himself today. One group is frozen in time. The other still learns and grows.

  29. John,
    I envy you. I am on the line that separates the inside from the outside.
    Your blogs resonate deeply with me.

    I’m certain there are others like me half in half out.
    My thought is if someone like me isn’t on the inside no one like me will be on the inside.
    So I press on.
    Bless you John. Keep sharing.

  30. LG, this post went right over your head. sounds like a typical “inside” individual.

    Until you find this God for yourself, until the system created by being inside frustrates the very core of your being …you will never truly fathom just how untamable God really is.
    I was inside for 13years, out for 3 and it was in my churchlessness that I found God. The moment I let God teach me outside of the “inside” …I experienced God on a whole new level. I heard Him clearer. I learned so much that I couldnt have learnt from the inside.

    • ‘Untamable’….I would never even entertain the notion of trying to ‘tame’ God. But tapping into the word ‘wild’ to describe our God is wrong. Our God is orderly, organized, transparent, trustworthy, dependable, faithful, accessible, welcoming, certain, familiar, loving, Fatherly. Yes our God is infinitely creative, but he’s not capricious like other gods. He doesn’t run hot or cold. We never have to guess where we stand with Him.

      • I think untamable is an interesting description possibly depicts accurately the movement of the Holy Spirit? Like wind or fire for example which are both untamable. .

    • I’m not a regular church goer. I don’t have a home church. I left my home church (of 42 years) when I became born-again. I lead bible study for addicts. I minister to and feed meals to street people & those in emergency shelter 4 evenings a week. I’m an artist & a musician. As a Christian, I’m ‘outside’ The World, but not ‘outside’ the Church (body of believers). I love my friends on the street. They love Jesus, and so do I. That’s all I care about. That’s all I want to talk about. Jesus.

    • He wasn’t just talking about being outside the church system, he was talking about exploring other faiths and ideas that take him truly outside. I’ve been outside the church system for a long time now, but I am NOT outside of Jesus. He’s it… 100%! Once you’ve found Jesus why would seek something or someone else? So whatever He’s talking about concerning being on the outside is less than worthless. Is Jesus enough? I think He is, I don’t need to go seeking elsewhere in this journey.

  31. Thank you! Yes, this has also been my own experience. Now that I’m not bound by the rigid rules and dogmas of my former Church, and no longer trapped in a role for women that was not only oppressive but physically demeaning and dangerous, I feel so much less fear; less fear of God and less fear in general. I feel wonder again at the great Mystery instead of living in a religious box where the leaders professed to know God’s mind and God’s will for me with all the precision of a scientist describing a black beetle.

  32. Pingback: A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside – A Nichols' Worth of Sense

  33. Well, if someone will please tell me… because I’m literally dying to know. What anyone thinks Christ will say to the Prodigal AND the Insider who, standing before Him, are lamenting on the way things SHOULD have been. My guess is it will involve a verb. Please share.

  34. When Jesus Christ willingly lost himself in the wilderness knowing his integrity would be put to the test, was he not on the ‘outside’? The Christian journey cannot and should not be sheltered by the confines of a ‘safe’, cup-cake baking (I love cup-cakes by the way), gated church community that is far removed from the wilderness that Jesus experienced. To have faith is to know that God’s love transcends all human notions and preconceived ideas about God. It is knowing that God is omnipresent and omnipotent. It is knowing that faith can and would move the proverbial mountain if necessary. Faith, by definition cannot be ‘labelised’ or intellectualised; it is a super-natural (I’m not talking ghosts and ghoulies here!) relationship and attempts to try and capture it like a genie in a bottle, or, if your a scientist, ascribe an alogarithym to it, or, if you’re a religious minister, explain it away using scripture, only serve to highlight human arrogance and humans’ insatiable need for control. News flash…You cannot control God! There is nothing that enriches, strengthens and nurtures faith more than an honest, personal and real (warts and all) relationship with God on the outside!

  35. Love this letter! For me, the irony is that the very people I would like to share this with are cut off from access to it because they have been taught not to trust or engage with people on the internet. Many stay off the web altogether in order to remain unspoiled by ‘worldly’ thinking & ideas. And saying such things in person only convinces them of their ‘rightness’ and resolve to stay on the inside. It’s a very frustrating situation.

  36. The Church is, or least it should be….rollicking good times with Fauns, Satyrs, Elves and Centaurs…a place where one can be who one truly is….a wild romp with a Being who is “not a Tame Lion”…a place of battle against evil…..a confrontation of one’s insecurities, sins and faults….a place of ultimate forgiveness, acceptance and love.

    It occurs to me that both C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien pictured the Church very well: Narnia and Middle-Earth are multi-faceted, multi-hued, multi-dimensional spaces. However, our dogmas, our rigidity, our retreat into the laziness of __religion___ have made the church into Abbott’s ‘Flatland’, a space of limited dimensions, limited thought, limited being.

    And those who which to escape out of Flatland, like the Square, who is exposed to a dimension beyond his own, are regarded as suspect, different……heretic.

  37. Great post…thank you for your honesty.

    It is important that we be honest. I am tired of people sitting back, allowing someone else to tell them what they must believe/agree with. Then, they will embrace these things – even if they are false – having handed over their minds and wills over to the orthodoxy of someone who appears to be an expert.
    It is lazy, ignorant, passive and a bit pathetic. Have a doubt? Great! Seek it out. I have found that when we pursue a doubt or question, God reveals a bit more of Himself. Wonder about a long-held doctrine? Dig in and find out what scripture has to really say about it.

  38. Keep trying to convince yourself. If being on “the outside” means many of the things you mentioned, well, you ARE certainly on the outside that’s for sure. And you’re proud of it? I don’t envy you. Jesus gathers those on the outside to Himself that they might be with Him, on the inside, but you want nothing to do with it. That’s sad.

    • @Michael — “Jesus gathers those on the outside to Himself that they might be with Him, on the inside, but you want nothing to do with it.” Define “inside”. Inside of what? Inside an institution? Inside a denomination? Inside a particular theological persuasion? These are all just opinions and perspectives. Whether or not Jesus actually gathers in the manner you believe he does is entirely subjective and speculative. In what you consider “outside”, folks like John, and a growing number of others, believe that the work and will of God is still being done. That is nothing to be sad about.

    • I completely agree, being on the outside? As a Christian I can explore paths, science and art and so much more. Coming from someone who has been on the “outside” I can tell you that the draw of Jesus Christ in my life was a constant. After the countless drunken/drugged up nights I’d found myself in, I ALWAYS knew that I wasn’t meant for a worldly life. I’ve been in and out of my faith for nearly 30years and have recently felt the draw to a relationship like never before. If you’re happy living on the “outside” then you never truly had a God encounter. Relationship with Jesus comes through FAITH and reading AND HEARING the WORD, if you claim to still read the bible and still allow yourself to go down this path, then you’ve chosen to hear the most frightening words in the Book. Depart from me for I never knew you. Please reconsider, true believers don’t feel sorry for you for your choices or feel like they have to save you. We treat you with kindness and stand in the gap for the backsliders, our unsaved family members, friends and co workers and hope that our lives radiate Jesus Christ and his love by continuing on and speaking faith and holding on to the truth that our prayers don’t go unnoticed. God bless anyone who reads this, and remember that wherever you are or whatever you’ve done, that if you have a TRUE repentant heart, then Jesus is waiting for you with His arms wide open and waiting for you to come home regardless. Amen

      • I hear you, but what you have to realize is that for some of us the “outside” to you is home to us and it’s where we find Jesus because the “inside” we were in for some reason did not have Him even though they claimed to. Open you mind and your heart a little and understand that not everyone is going to find Him where you do. Blessings!

        • Do you read your bible? I’m going to be bold and tell you that if you claim any belief in Jesus, then you would follow the Word. It clearly states in Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake the gathering together with fellow believers, even more so when we see time of his return approaching. The “church” that this article talks about is a people that want to just stay within the walls, if you are a follower of the Word then what is required of you….go ye therefore and preach the gospel to every living creature correct? REAL men and women of God seek out the opportunity to share what He has done for us AND offer a no contract invitation to hear the offer of salvation. Anyone can come as they are and ARE NOT JUDGED if they decide to visit a church. We will pray people through to the Holy Ghost on the streets, on a bus, in the supermarket, When God shows up that is the appointed time, not just at a church. Baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues is way we are made whole in Jesus. So if I allow myself to go hit up a bar, or go see an r rated. well nowadays even a PG13 film, am I being pleasing to God? If I am His temple, and He is alive in me, would I set down and watch a sex scene or listen to dirty jokes or drop the occasional f bomb? NO, if I am made NEW through my encounter, old things are passed away, I am to be part of the world yet not OF the world. We’re not meant to fit in with every Tom and Nancy, we are NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST. Light does not mix with dark, you cannot hold hands with Christ and the world and expect to be known of Him, it says he’ll spew you out of His mouth if you’re like warm. He wants ALL of me, ALL of YOU, do not be deceived and led astray. There is but ONE way to the Father and it is through Jesus and staying faithful and prayed up. Not doing good things for people and being a good person, we are required to work for Him, not sit idly and go with the flow.

          • I do (read my Bible) and I am (Christian or at least I follow Christ Jesus) but I don’t go to church (one can still gather together with others without being in a church) and don’t thrust it down other people’s throats like an unplatable medicine as it seems you do. How do I know you do that? Just by what you’ve said here and how you’ve sprung to your righteous defence. Are you feeling threatened by others who don’t agree with you? It seems to me you are being very defensive, when actually there was not an attack. I don’t agree with you as to how you go about your brand of Christianity nor as to how you treat others like they are outsiders and enemies, but I really have no desire to convince you otherwise, largely because my experience of people of your persuasion is that you cannot hold a reasonable discussion. This is because you are so convinced of your own stand you cannot perceive that someone else who thinks differently might be right and you wrong. So keep your Christianity to yourself please. I’m going to be like you and refuse to listen to what you have to say.

          • when the bible says do not forsake the gathering of believers … it wasnt refering to the 4 walls of a church. On the outside, God connected me to a few people I pray with, share the word with. We are doing more for the kingdom than we ever did on the inside.

            I’m with the guy who says “not everybody will find God at the same place you did” The 1st few years of Paul (Saul’s) christianity, in Gal1 it says he did not consult any man nor any apostles who were before him. Your path might be a frustration to my destiny and mine might be da same to someone else’s destiny.

            The same bible you are quoting did say about the Isralites that they were mt allowed to intermarry with other nations. But look at Moses, look at Samson …it says when his parents were in distress about him choosing a wife among the philistines bible says “THEY DID NOT KNOW THAT IT WAS GOD WHO SOUGHT AN OCCASION WITH THE PHILISTINES” … my point is: Its not everyone who will follow the biblical status quo, we are individuals and my God ordained path might not look like any known path. Where the spirit leads, we follow … so dont mind us choosing to follow God’s leading. We understand that your theology might disagree with where God is taking us and thats ok. Its such a freeing feeling when u finally put God out of our own created christian box.

  39. Heck, John, I don’t worry about you at all. However, I still do love you and stand beside you all the way. I’m so glad you’re in my virtual world and I can read you every day; makes me glad. Thanks!
    jsue

  40. AN OUTSIDE ACTIVITY:

    Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. (Mark 13:27)

    Notice that God is not gathering his people from “all the churches.” The last time I checked the four winds blow around outside the churches. He is gathering them from wherever they happen to be located at X-time in human history. This is just a minor point—but a significant one. God’s people are where you find them, and that is not necessarily in a church building.

    But of course…

    If God’s people are outside of the church, then how is a pastor and his staff to get paid with no one in the pews? Get paid? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That must be their ticket. One thing I like about the Roman Catholic Church is that they have solved the “pastor get paid” problem much better than protestant churches.

    Yes, I know the scripture about the pastor getting paid properly for his work. However, I think one of our big problems in the church today is the “empire builder” pastor and his giving contracts, which exist to a large degree to put the pastor on easy street and keep him there. Ten at some point you have to ask: “Is he really in this for Jesus, or is he in this primarily for the high salary, luxury car, and palatial parsonage.

    Scalia is really most sincerely dead: https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

  41. Sheesh, some of the comments here make a person who has been traumatized by religion and started to heal want to run a mile again. I’m seriously wondering why such people read blog posts like this in the first place – just as an opportunity to scathingly criticise those who are touched by the posts? Sorry John, your words are healing to the soul. I’m not criticising you at all! Just really wondering what they want. Love and light sent to them anyway. We’re all at a different place.

  42. To question does not mean to lack faith. To the contrary, questions can be a sign that one’s faith is very much alive. Even Jesus hesitated in the garden and questioned on the cross.

  43. Jesus also questioned in the temple at age 12 when he traveled to Jerusalem with his parents. You will recall from the Bible that the teachers in the temple marveled at the things he had to say. “Marvel” only happens when one usual set of ideas bangs up against another new set of ideas—and questioning inevitably arises on both sides of the fence. Fundies do a really good job of thumping their Bibles but not a very good at reading them, and they ignore the numerous passages they do not like very much, such as “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” They despise that one, and it plays no real part in how they live out their lives—not that I have ever seen.

  44. There are many ways to view things of God and our walk of faith. Authentic spirituality (Christianity) is not rigid and harsh, instead it is humble and full of grace seasoned with love. When we live our faith-life outside the box of religious convention(s) it often becomes life-giving and real to those we meet. Our belief is no longer known by its form and structure, rather, it is known by its love and its gracious appeal.

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  46. I am on the “outside” with the same views as yours. It took a spiritual “fall” to get here, and now here – there is no going back. Eyes are more wide open. Authenticity is the key difference.
    Thanks for articulating well this side of Christian faith.

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