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Posts Tagged ‘Paganism’

Dionysus

I walked out of church today. I did not know that it was going to be a Palm Sunday service, and I was not quite mentally prepared for that one. I am not particularly proud of standing up and leaving; in fact, the whole thing was pretty disturbing for me.

I just could not sit there listening to the preacher going on-and-on about Christ’s riding on the donkey, the palms, and the triumphal entry as some kind of literal, historical fact. He even had the congregation stop and think about the fact that “on this exact day” so many thousands of years ago all of this was unfolding.

Either this person is a fool, or he is taking me for one. There is no in-between option that I can come to on my own.

Let me explain myself…

If this preacher is a scholar then he must be aware that the holiday was a pre-existing one; that the god-man riding the donkey, and being celebrated with the waving of the palms were already part of that pagan holiday and was later integrated into the story of Christ.

If a preacher being educated on these facts, knowingly preaches this event to me as a unique and literal fact of the life of Jesus, then he is taking me for a fool. He is knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately misleading, manipulating, and insulting my intelligence.

If a preacher is not aware of these facts, then he is uneducated, unlearned, and is no scholar. A man such as this is not fit to hold the pulpit.

If a preacher being educated on historical facts knowingly rejects them as a statement of faith, this man is a fool of the highest sort. True faith is not simply rejecting or choosing to not believe historical or scientific facts that do not line up with a personal belief system; such a thing we call stupidity.

If it were against my religion to believe in the country of France, or that the world is round, should I be applauded for my great faith in choosing to believe such nonsense despite the reality of the situation? No, never! Such a thing would be considered to be mere self-delusion and idiocy.

Wouldn’t it be better to educate the people about the religious history of that region and what the image of the god-man on top of a donkey represented in that culture? What the palms symbolized? How we can apply this to our spiritual lives today?

I do miss my old child-like faith; I am not bragging about the loss of it–I mourn it. However, I am not about to go down that road of trading knowledge for faith–I know where that leads. There has to be another way. I wonder if anyone has any words of encouragement for me in this time? I feel very down today about all of this for some reason.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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gazeatstarsWhen I was a child I, like many others, had some rather rough years. I do not think that my particular story is any more dramatic or piercing than any others; except in the fact that to me it is, since it is mine.

Yes, I had some hard times at home; my father made it quite known to me at as a child that I only existed because the birth-control went wrong, and their religion frowned upon abortions. My sister was the perfect, favorite child, who could do no wrong; mother was timid and dominated– afraid to venture out, speak up, or fully come into herself.

Yes, some things were a bit off, but nothing extraordinary… right?

Father was a pastor, and I lived in what I thought was your typical Christian home. He seemed to have a nack with “combating” the supernatural; he and my mother wound-up specializing in counseling people who the church deemed to be demonically oppressed or possessed. They even had a special crucifix that hung on the wall at all times that opened up to reveal an emergency exorcism kit; complete with holy water and all. I got to spend the typical Saturday morning watching Scooby-Doo, or some other cartoon, in the living room while trying to phase out the screams and curses coming from the adjacent room, as mom and dad were casting a demon out of somebody.

I rejected Christianity back then as a child. I saw little evidence of a changed nature in the lives of those Christians around me, and I felt nothing inside of me that spoke up as a witness to a God living inside of me.

Fear however, was inside of me.

The one thing I did get from those creepy-ass years (thanks dad) was an unhealthy fear of the supernatural. I never heard nor saw God, a miracle, an angel, or anything to make me think that something was out there pulling for me. However, I grew up with such a fear of demons, witches, and the devil, that I could no longer sleep at night.

I had no awareness of divine good, but I sure as hell feared evil. To help myself through those times I used my imagination. I had a good imagination; I loved to daydream and draw; I even made up an alter-ego of myself that feared no evil. I would write, draw, and dream away of his many heroic adventures. He wore a mask, he grew up in an ancient small village, he had these little rituals that he would do and trinkets he could use.

Later on in life while visiting an art gallery I stumbled upon a travel exhibit of old masks. For some crazy reason there was a copy of my imaginary hero’s mask there. Unbeknown to me, as a child I instinctively gave him a pretty traditional Shaman’s mask. Intrigued by this I studied the religion some, and came to find other settings, rituals, and items from my childhood stories in there. This intrigues me, but I have no answers for this phenomena.

Having no “real God” to pray to as a child was difficult for me, and many of my problems if confessed to mom and dad would only result in more scorn and rejection. Having nothing else to talk to–I started talking to the moon about things. It was helpful to me, I always loved the moon. It was something that was always there, watching over me; bright and lovely, glowing like a warm smile. I spent many a night out in a field looking up and talking to her.

Her, that’s right–I felt like the moon was a she. I even gave her a name as a kid; I named her Chandra. Funny that now I know that Chandra is the name of a lunar deity in Hinduism. Go figure; and by the way… my astrological sign is Cancer (Moon sign). Another thing that intrigues me, but I have no answers to as of yet.

I wish that I could say that I managed to keep this childhood openness and awareness going throughout my entire life; however, that would be a lie. Eventually I “grew up“, did away with such childish things, and started serving the Lord like my family expected me to. Why? What happened?

I held on to about the age of 17; that was when my girlfriend, whom I loved dearly, tried to kill herself. She had grown up in a very physically abusive home, understandably had some emotional issues over this, and was in recovery from drug abuse when I met her. When we first met we were 15. I stayed with her through many a rough time; loved her; and always believed that our love would see us through all of this.

One night she came home and her mother was high again. Mom beat her, and she went running out the door. Depressed and distraught, she decided to self-medicate to make the feelings go away. She went to a dealers house and he got her high; while she was high, he raped her. She then tried to take her life.

She did not succeed, but she got taken away to some “home” in some other State, and she was not allowed to contact anyone from her previous life–including me.

When I broke down in front of my parents and explained to them what was going on in my life, and the pain that I was going through, that she had gone through, they told me exactly why all this had happened to my girlfriend. They told me that Jesus put me in her life to save her with the gospel of Christ, but since I was selfish and unbelieving I messed the whole thing up. Instead of saving her I dated her. Instead of giving her Jesus, I fell in love with her; I was carnal and slept with her. If I would have acted sooner, she would have not have been raped that night, she would not have tried to take her life, and God would not have had to have taken her away from me.

They told me that not only did I miss my God-given opportunity to help her, but I also made her life even worse; for now she will probably never get saved, healed, or get to heaven; since now she thinks Christians are people like me…

I then repented and decided to enter into the ministry.

It took a while, but I am slowly starting to shake-off all this Christian craziness that my family heaped on me. The guilt and shame goes deep though, and it is hard to break. I do have beliefs that guide me in my pursuit though,

  • I do not believe in a literal Christ (who lived, died, rose again); I believe the story was an allegory
  • I do not believe in the Devil or demons
  • I hope that if there is a Higher Power, it would inspire me to love, heal, have compassion, peace, and motivate me to help others
  • I question if I could not also find those very things in myself without a God, if I spent time and energy working on myself, my relationships, and on helping others.

I am trying to reject all the fear and pain; while still maintaining my childhood-instinctive faith. I am trying to talk to the moon again. I am trying to rid myself of the fear of the supernatural. I am trying to awaken my sleeping alter-ego once more for another adventure.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Limbo!Today a friend of mine randomly asked me “What do you think happened to all of the Old Testament people after they died? Did they go to heaven even though Jesus had not died for their sins yet?”

Now this was far from the subjects that we were discussing, but this was something that was bugging them for quite some time and they wanted my opinion on the matter as someone who is currently studying theology.

So, I gave her the accepted bible school answer. Basically that all of the “righteous dead” who died before Jesus went to some kind of limbo or purgatory. Although now scholars generally refer to it as the Bosom of Abraham.

Luke 16:20-23
And [there was] a poor man, by name Lazarus, [who] was laid at his gateway full of sores, and desiring to be filled with the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man; but the dogs also coming licked his sores. And it came to pass that the poor man died, and that he was carried away by the angels into the bosom of Abraham. And the rich man also died and was buried. And in hades lifting up his eyes, being in torments, he sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

They also teach that this is the place that Jesus was referring to when on the cross when he said:

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Especially since according to their theology it was not the appropriate time yet for man to be able to be in heaven.

(However, please note that in Luke 16:20-23 Jesus is telling a parable. He was not discussing theology or telling an actual story. A parable is a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson – it is not fact, and should never be taken as one. The fact that a parable somehow made its way into Christian “facts” on the afterlife is beyond me.)

I also explained to her the church teaches that after Jesus died he went to this limbo and preached the gospel to the dead. Those who chose to believe in him were then able to enter heaven.

As a child I also remember being told this in church and asked lwhat happend to any Old Testiment figures that did not acccept Jesus while in limbo? I was just told “That didn’t happen, they all accepted him. Stop asking questions!”

This is the scripture to justify the rationale that Christ went to limbo to convert the dead:

1 Peter 4:6
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

At this point my friend laughed at me, and stated that I was making all this up. They said that maybe old school Catholics think something like this, but there is no way that people in our modern churches think such things. I then stated and showed that this is the popular belief among most Christian scholars and church denominations to this day. Yes, even your non-denominational, Baptist, Pentecostal… whatever church most-likely still adheres to this teaching.

“But that’s crazy!” they said. Well let us think about it then – if this is crazy then what is rational? Is the flood rational? The ark? Talking snakes, and women being created out of rib-bones? Elijah riding up to heaven on a fiery chariot?

So if you do not want to believe in this theory, then what is option number 2? Option number 2 comes from the Apostle Paul’s teachings in Romans. Paul states that even without hearing the gospel of Christ, God is still known by all men in their hearts.

Rom 1:19-20
since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

He then states:

Rom 2:12
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

Rom 2:13-16
It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

So the basic concept of option 2 is that people who die without having the chance to know Jesus will simply be judged as good or evil based on how obedient they were to their own consciences or their own religions.

My friend liked this option a lot better, and said that it made much more sense to her.

But we need to look deeper at this theory. Let us examine it a bit further before we say that this is the answer that is “logical”.

Maybe it sounds nice to us that to all the Old Testament peoples, they got judged by a different standard and got to heaven or hell based on this standard. However, if it were possible to even get into heaven without Jesus then why did we even need a Christ at all in the first place?

Seriously, the whole point of Christ was that all of mankind is sinful and unable to please God or enter into heaven without the Christ. Our bible even states that even someone who obeyed ever letter of the Law was still not good enough and was going to hell.

We even preach a doctrine of original sin which states that at conception/birth we are sinful and are not worthy to enter heaven since no sin can be in heaven/the presence of God.

As a side-note if this is true ask yourself why the heck Satan is chilling out in heaven talking to God in the book of Job.

We also have to take into consideration that what Paul is writing was referring to all people groups and time periods, and not just pre-Christ. So what does this actually mean if it is true? Does it mean that everyone is going to heaven or hell based on how they acted according to their own hearts, laws, or religions? No, we say that it says that if someone does not hear the gospel then they are judged by this other standard.

So let me get this straight… If someone was a devout Hindu, a kind and good person who lived a good life, and who loved their God – and they did not hear the gospel of Jesus they would die and go to heaven.

Conversely, if the same person right before they died was presented with the gospel of Jesus and did not accept it – then would then die and go to hell.

Are you kidding me? If that is the case then what is the point of evengelism anyway? Would not people be better off if they did not know the gospel of Jesus? Heck, if this was the case then all Jesus did was make it harder to get into heaven then it was before he came along.

My friend then chimed in and said – “If we are born sinful then and are born unworthy to get into heaven then what about babies that die?”

Well for that we created something called the “age of accountability“. This basically is us saying that God would be a real jerk if he sent babies and handicapped people to hell, so there must be a way around it. So we preach that God will let beings into heaven that died before being able to rationally accept or reject the gospel.

This is a cute theory, but it is not scriptural and goes against Romans 5:12, many other scriptures, and the churches stance on original sin. In fact the church went as far as to declare the idea that to not believe in original sin to be heresy. This notion championed by Saint Augustine was a primary catalyst for the whole invention of Purgatory in the first place. Since we started teaching that dead babies can not get into heaven – we had to create some kind of place for them to go to that was not hell and some kind of way to then pray them into heaven.

So what is the right answer? I do not know but, I’d like to point out how all of our accepted answers are a bit crazy, and offer up the idea that maybe we are making it a lot harder to get to God than we were supposed to in the first place.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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DionysusSurprisingly enough the title of this post was not something that I said today, but instead it was from a fellow bible school student that I had lunch with. He is a good student, he loves God, and he is a youth leader in his local church. He runs a home-group, and the current youth pastor is phasing out and this guy is stepping in as the new leader soon.

So here I am feeling bad because I have all these doubts, and I come to find out that just about all of us have them. Heck our pastors and professors have them.

We were eating lunch and started talking about things we are learning (we take different classes) and he started talking about things he is learning in his Old Testament class. He said that his professor was going over the book of Genesis (creation story) and mentioned that it really was just a myth and should not be taken literally at all. The Professor then pointed out that the story of Genesis is basically just a common creation myth of the whole Mesopotamian region. Basically all the people groups / religions of that area tell and re-tell the same basic creation story over and over again, but simply tweaked it to fit their cultures.

We come to find that our Christian creation story was told hundreds and in some cases thousands of years earlier in other regions and religions, but some of the names and places are changed to account for different gods and goddesses. We are encouraged to simply look at the creation story as a story, as a myth, and not as something factual or divine. In fact, we fully acknowledge that it was just folklore that was taken from other pagan religions of the area.

He was told to simply think of this and other stories as “moral fables” that help teach us lessons about life, inspire us, or help us better understand the nature of God.

You can apply this to all kinds of things if you think about it: What about the entire story of Job? The Flood? Tower of Babel?

That was when my friend said “You know, it’s funny… The longer I am in bible school the less I believe in the bible.”

After this point, what is it I can do? I guess I could try to reassure him of the validity of his bible. Maybe I could condemn him for having doubts? Or maybe I can open up to him as well, and let him know that he is not the only one with doubts and concerns.

Sometimes just knowing that you are not the only one out there with an issue is quite helpful.

I told him that I never at any time that I could remember considered the bible to be a literal piece of historical literature. I always have considered it to be a blending of historical fact, personal opinion, political opinion, divine inspiration, and common mythology of the region. I tend to read it as an entire book, and look at the larger point that it is trying to make as a collective work – getting to know the personality of God, and how to know him more.

Heck I think that the apostle Paul was a sexist, and a bit of a jerk. Most churches, for example, read his writings on the role of women in the church and have one of 2 reactions:

  1. They take his words literally, and think women should not be allowed to be leaders in church, preach, teach, and even try to make them not wear makeup, certain clothing, and keep their heads covered at all times.
  2. They try to explain away Paul’s words with elaborate, imaginative, and speculative commentary. They can not declare that something in the bible is wrong, so instead they try to explain away what it says. Basically, oh it may say that, but it does not really say that. Maybe we do not know the whole background story, or we translated it wrong… etc etc.

I like approach number 3 better myself. Approach number 3 is simply saying – Yes it totally says that, and I disagree with it. Paul was wrong. He is being a bit sexist here. He was from a different culture, and a different time period. He was just a man. Not everything he said was sacred.

I then opened up to my friend, and let him know that although I did not know about this whole Genesis creation story thing, I was aware of the debate going on as to if the story of Jesus was actually just a re-telling or Jewish adaptation of the story of Mithra (or Dionysus).

I said that it was refreshing to hear that in our schools our pastors and professors are teaching that certain Old Testament stories are just borrowed stories from earlier religions – adapted to Jewish culture. But what about the New Testament? I find it funny that we can take such an open minded stance on the Old Testament, but the New Testament is totally off limits.

There is overwhelming evidence that the story of Christ is just a rehash of other Christ stories from earlier religions.

Based upon the facts that we know now, we can easily say that the creation story in Genesis was borrowed from other religions in the area. That it was common mythology for the Mesopotamian regions. We then say that it does not matter in the end. It does not get in the way of the point we are trying to make. It does not change our religion.

But what do we do about Christ? We have just as much proof that he too is just a borrowed story, a re-telling of the Christ story – passed down and picked up from various towns, peoples, and generations. The idea or ideal of Christ was simoly common myth in that area. It started in one area, and as people spread out the story was adapted to different people groups.

It is most-likely that there was no Jesus Christ as we know him in the bible. Either the historical Jesus was totally fabricated, and was simply a Jewish take on the worship of Mithra; Or he existed and later after his death people merged his teachings in with common fables of Mithra worship in an attempt to create a religion.

However, what does this realization mean for me as a Christian? As a Christ- ian? Sure I can easily dismiss a flood or a 7 day creation and say I can still be a Christian, but what about the knowledge that there was no Jesus?

Does that matter, or can we one day come to terms with that and realize that this as well does not take away from the greater concept or purpose of the religion?

Right now I am studying the Gnostic Scriptures, and am starting to consider the possibility that they were the first true “Christians”. I am open to the idea that the Gnostics had various myths that they adapted from region to region. These myths were not sacred to them – they were just stories to get people to become aware of some greater truths.

The Gnostics adapted the story for the Jewish culture, and in time we got Gnostic Christians. Some of these followers missed the point and took the story literally, and division occurred. Another option is that the orthodox church as we know it – knew it was a myth but intentionally wiped-out the Gnostics anyway for money and power.

It became a controlling religion with a power structure – bishops, popes, priests, repentance, penance, money, power, government – and so they wiped out the originators of the religion who stood in their way or exposing the myth for what it was – simply a story to help inspire us to take a first step to be better people, to realize that deep-down we are all spirit, and we are all son’s and daughters of God. If people had that revelation and knew they did not have to go to church, pay money to the church, and be controlled by the church – the church would loose it’s power. This power was also tied into the State government at the time (Rome), so the myth had to be preserved or even amplified.

I hate being this confused on the matter of my faith. What also concerns me is that none of this is new revelation to our church leadership and it’s teachers. The majority of the people in charge know this information in full detail – better than I do. They know, but they teach contrary to this knowledge anyway. In fact, some of them do not even have faith anymore, but they stay in positions of power to keep their churches or careers going.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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