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  1. #1
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Default "I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God"

    A friend of mine posted this on fb: I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. (I'm not going to bother posting bits and pieces- if you're interested, just go to the page. )

    This friend who posted it (and some of her friends as well) are having a rather bad reaction to it. Someone (on her friends list) made a gutsy suggestion that maybe it's not such a bad thing, and it got a bunch of drawers all knotted up. I'm just curious to hear what other Christians here might think about it- someone strongly identifying as Christian (enough to be a pastor) but not believing in the "supernatural" aspects of it. Can someone be Christian and not believe?

    (In other words, maybe- is Christianity to you more about the faith in God than it is about the teachings? I personally don't know enough about Christianity to have an opinion.)
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Zangetshumody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    A friend of mine posted this on fb: I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. (I'm not going to bother posting bits and pieces- if you're interested, just go to the page. )

    This friend who posted it (and some of her friends as well) are having a rather bad reaction to it. Someone (on her friends list) made a gutsy suggestion that maybe it's not such a bad thing, and it got a bunch of drawers all knotted up. I'm just curious to hear what other Christians here might think about it- someone strongly identifying as Christian (enough to be a pastor) but not believing in the "supernatural" aspects of it. Can someone be Christian and not believe?

    (In other words, maybe- is Christianity to you more about the faith in God than it is about the teachings? I personally don't know enough about Christianity to have an opinion.)
    I am at odds with the article. My line is quite special on this particular matter, because I don't think this pastor knows how to read his bible that well;- because I believe there is much evidence in the bible for his own style of "non-believing". A lot of his 'beliefs' I think are approximately quite compatible with my doctrine, but I do think he has misidentified a lot of the bible as belonging to the "myth-laden human productions of evolution", and so underselling its doctrinal merit on fundamental philosophical guidance which could be used to endorse a similar version to many of this Pastors own sentiments.

    To restate the crux of what I'm trying to distinguish here: The Bible as a work of words, is open to interpretations, if one takes the view that it has any great merit (if at all), they must prefer to understand those words along some species of certainty; I agree with the Pastor that interpreting "supernatural" forces of God is problematic (although its problematic to me because I see the belief in the "supernatural" as part of the description of the anti-Christ mentality);- and that the true force of God is supreme and dynamic (and obviously quite profound), but that it only looks mysterious because the various aspects of psychological reality is largely an unconsciousness phenomena in most people's experience. Can it be too onerous to see efforts to read the bible beyond the shackles of the inherited traditions (which for me are quite obvious man-made shackles, as too is the Pastor's own evolutionary narrative (which is similarly disembodied from the real intelligence that the doctrine of Christ is directed engaged with)).
    Escape powerful genjitsu by averting your gaze from the eyes.

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    If he's just a religious philosopher and isn't actually a spiritual believer, I wouldn't actually want to attend his church. This isn't to say that some religious leaders never struggle with their faith, but when they become full blown atheists, I think most would step down, and not "advertise" it in this manner. But I'm sure they are plenty of people belonging to the church of liberalism who are overjoyed he exists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zangetshumody View Post
    I am at odds with the article. My line is quite special on this particular matter, because I don't think this pastor knows how to read his bible that well;- because I believe there is much evidence in the bible for his own style of "non-believing". A lot of his 'beliefs' I think are approximately quite compatible with my doctrine, but I do think he has misidentified a lot of the bible as belonging to the "myth-laden human productions of evolution", and so underselling its doctrinal merit on fundamental philosophical guidance which could be used to endorse a similar version to many of this Pastors own sentiments.

    To restate the crux of what I'm trying to distinguish here: The Bible as a work of words, is open to interpretations, if one takes the view that it has any great merit (if at all), they must prefer to understand those words along some species of certainty; I agree with the Pastor that interpreting "supernatural" forces of God is problematic (although its problematic to me because I see the belief in the "supernatural" as part of the description of the anti-Christ mentality);- and that the true force of God is supreme and dynamic (and obviously quite profound), but that it only looks mysterious because the various aspects of psychological reality is largely an unconsciousness phenomena in most people's experience. Can it be too onerous to see efforts to read the bible beyond the shackles of the inherited traditions (which for me are quite obvious man-made shackles, as too is the Pastor's own evolutionary narrative (which is similarly disembodied from the real intelligence that the doctrine of Christ is directed engaged with)).
    I think it's impossible to embrace the entire Bible without spiritual faith. If Jesus is just a great example of a human being, why not found the church of Mother Teresa or Ghandi...I believe it was CS Lewis who said Jesus Christ is either the Son of God, or a complete madman.

    Jesus also references the power of faith repeatedly, faith moving mountains and chastising disciples for lack of faith - faith is the power that makes it work.

    So he's actually directly contradicting the teaching of Jesus. This is absolutely not a matter of interpretation. I honestly hope the Presbyterian Church gets rid of him so he can be free to start a cult somewhere in South Dakota.

  5. #5
    Super Ape Luke O's Avatar
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    That was an interesting article and reinforces my thoughts on what the benefits of religion really are. Community and cooperation. This type of Christianity is more like a club for fans of Jesus. It's a step going in the right direction.

    He's right about the fact that God is mentioned a lot in the Bible. The thing about religious scripture is while you can translate it for other readers, and change the meaning slightly, revising them is frowned upon. They are largely fixed and constant, in a world which changes all the time.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    A friend of mine posted this on fb: I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. (I'm not going to bother posting bits and pieces- if you're interested, just go to the page. )

    This friend who posted it (and some of her friends as well) are having a rather bad reaction to it. Someone (on her friends list) made a gutsy suggestion that maybe it's not such a bad thing, and it got a bunch of drawers all knotted up. I'm just curious to hear what other Christians here might think about it- someone strongly identifying as Christian (enough to be a pastor) but not believing in the "supernatural" aspects of it. Can someone be Christian and not believe?

    (In other words, maybe- is Christianity to you more about the faith in God than it is about the teachings? I personally don't know enough about Christianity to have an opinion.)
    No, you cant be a Christian and not believe what is so essential a tenet of the creed.

    I dont understand how you can not believe the supernatural aspects and yet believe the teaching, its something else that you are believing and perhaps that could be drawn out but its not Christianity.

    To be honest I'm really not surprised about this at all, I read some RCC accounts about how the reformation had thrown the door open to atheism and at the time I thought it was a tenuous link, maybe even a little bit sectarian.

    The RCC accounts thought that some varieties of protestantism would evolve in the direction of atheism while others characterised by dogmatics, solo-scripturalism and evangelism would likely provoke reactions of their own in the shape of atheism.

    And I'm sure that in turn atheism will evolve and provoke something else too.

    I've read about and had some great discussions about what "believing in God" entails, although in this sense it seems like a very simple point about God's existence, I could at time wonder about providence, wonder whether God want's me to believe in a divine plan or design or to do my own thing, or "my own thing" in so far as I think it's "my own thing" as humans arent good at discerning the extent to which their thinking and actions are pray to determinism but, bar a single Kirkegaardian instant, I never doubted the existence of God.

    People should ask whether they think they have God figured out right and why and how and if its even possible, a whole spectrum of questions, as opposed to the simple states of denial that they do enter into.

    The movie The Book of Eli is probably just a bit of post-apocalyptic mad max styling but I loved that film, even if it appears to be about solo scripture and evangelism, when the whole "were is your God?"/"God is good, God is always good" bit happens it resonated a lot with me. At the very least I'd accept naturalistic explanations of God as a perfect vision, as history unfolding, as the universal man in the individual and social unconscious but they'd be insufficient for me.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Zangetshumody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    I think it's impossible to embrace the entire Bible without spiritual faith. If Jesus is just a great example of a human being, why not found the church of Mother Teresa or Ghandi...I believe it was CS Lewis who said Jesus Christ is either the Son of God, or a complete madman.

    Jesus also references the power of faith repeatedly, faith moving mountains and chastising disciples for lack of faith - faith is the power that makes it work.

    So he's actually directly contradicting the teaching of Jesus. This is absolutely not a matter of interpretation. I honestly hope the Presbyterian Church gets rid of him so he can be free to start a cult somewhere in South Dakota.
    Real faith is crucial, but without a full discussion about interpretation and the understanding of what the Scriptures give account of, I am still loathe to criticize wholesale the style of this Pastors faith, because it seem a closer approximation that is much more capable of reaching the understanding of what I see fully laid out in the Scriptures, than the 'supernatural' faith of the 'hocus pocus' aspects that has been blindly bought into as "faith".

    Faith to move mountains is real, but its only real when your faith does move mountains, believing in a faith that moves mountains when yours can't, is indistinguishable from a belief in sorcery.

    --
    Small aside: believing "on" something- is somewhat,- a different matter: but to fully distinguish the difference is not pertinent to the subject of this thread, and deals with many ancillary doctrinal issues that don't carry vast weight on any single topic, more to do with the contextual framework that is applied to the treatment of understanding the internal and external realms of worldly correlations.
    Escape powerful genjitsu by averting your gaze from the eyes.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke O View Post
    That was an interesting article and reinforces my thoughts on what the benefits of religion really are. Community and cooperation. This type of Christianity is more like a club for fans of Jesus. It's a step going in the right direction.

    He's right about the fact that God is mentioned a lot in the Bible. The thing about religious scripture is while you can translate it for other readers, and change the meaning slightly, revising them is frowned upon. They are largely fixed and constant, in a world which changes all the time.
    Said like a true enemy of the perennial things.

    Some things change, to those things their season, including individual lives and social characters but there are also perennials which have no season, which are universal and which are timeless.

    Its important not to confuse the two and speak with authority approving of revisionism and relativism, those forces that you think are about validating things you approve of now, for instance "community" and "co-operation", or such other vagaries, fashions and vogues as you like, have been used at another time and place to validate other things which I suspect you would not approve of, like authoritarianism, sectarianism etc. All because of the adaptability of human, all to human rationalising to change qua change.

    The "distillers" view of religion has been tried before, most notably probably in the shape of socialism at the time of the French Revolution, the whole "christianity as a secular religion" idea. I think its never going to work because its about seeing how religion can be domesticated and a best fit be found with your life and demands of your society and that's about face, that's the cart before the horse, its like a hobby or minor pass time. Which isnt what religion has been or ever will be.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zangetshumody View Post
    Real faith is crucial, but without a full discussion about interpretation and the understanding of what the Scriptures give account of, I am still loathe to criticize wholesale the style of this Pastors faith, because it seem a closer approximation that is much more capable of reaching the understanding of what I see fully laid out in the Scriptures, than the 'supernatural' faith of the 'hocus pocus' aspects that has been blindly bought into as "faith".

    Faith to move mountains is real, but its only real when your faith does move mountains, believing in a faith that moves mountains when yours can't, is indistinguishable from a belief in sorcery.
    If you examine the history of Christianity and the RCC its been about opposing varieties of superstition as much as anything else and not in other, alternative or rival or opposing creeds but within its own camp too.

    The dark ages were not so dark, it all become clear if you're willing to do some reading and discover the proper history, not the years and years of propaganda friendly to the fashions, vogues and paradigm shifts of the present moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zangetshumody View Post
    Real faith is crucial, but without a full discussion about interpretation and the understanding of what the Scriptures give account of, I am still loathe to criticize wholesale the style of this Pastors faith, because it seem a closer approximation that is much more capable of reaching the understanding of what I see fully laid out in the Scriptures, than the 'supernatural' faith of the 'hocus pocus' aspects that has been blindly bought into as "faith".

    Faith to move mountains is real, but its only real when your faith does move mountains, believing in a faith that moves mountains when yours can't, is indistinguishable from a belief in sorcery.

    --
    Small aside: believing "on" something- is somewhat, a different matter, but to fully distinguish the difference is not pertinent to the subject of this thread, and deals with many ancillary doctrinal issues that don't carry vast weight on any single topic, more to do with the contextual framework that is applied to the treatment of understanding the internal and external realms of worldly correlations.
    So believing other people can build rockets when I can't is akin to a belief in sorcery? That's the crux of what you just said.

    I don't see where "hocus pocus" even got involved in this conversation. He does not have faith, and calls himself a Christian. He supposedly follows Christ, yet ignores Christ's commands to faith...and denies Jesus' ability to heal the sick, etc.

    Essentially he's a Marxist who wants to light candles. He can do that at the Seeing Eye Psychic Book Store.

    Honestly, I think he is a minister so he can marry gays, who were raised culturally Christian. I'm not that naive.
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