Blessed Assurance, Part II

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the evangelism attempts of some Christians that I know and the way that they insist they are right. Just for arguments sake let’s say I change my mind. I agree with them and ‘see the light’. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, and all that jazz. I was wrong, to even question God at all, as his ways are not my ways and his thoughts not my thoughts. I take it all back and I believe in Jesus Christ now. I appreciate all of your help but I have one final question for you:

Which denomination should I join?

I have to ask, as there are so many within Christianity. And even under the umbrella of Christendom, people cannot agree on what the ‘true’ faith is and on which Christians will make it into heaven. In the past, I’ve had Catholics tell me that there is no salvation apart from the ‘Mother Church’ and that Protestants who want to please Jesus must ‘come home to Rome’. When my Mama studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses in the late 1980s, they told us that all mainstream churches were corrupt and only their sect had the truth. A few years later as a Baptist, I was taught to fear and stay away from those Pentecostals, as they had misinterpreted the Bible when it came speaking in tongues and were too obsessed with ‘catching’ the Holy Spirit. The pastor at the non-denominational church I attended for nine months(much to the chagrin of my family) viewed any church which did not adhere to strict Calvinism and embrace all points of TULIP as heretical, worthy of God’s judgment for spreading false teaching.

It doesn’t stop there. We still have the Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventist, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Unitarians, Quakers, various Eastern Orthodox churches, various Evangelicals,etc. The list goes on and on.  They all supposedly worship the same God-yet come up with wildly differing interpretations of how to follow and please him.  The hostility that some denominations show to other Christians rivals the hostility that is shown to other religions! Yet each and every one boldly asserts that they know ‘the truth’ and that those who dispute them-even other Christians-will be unsaved.   With all of these divisions within Christianity itself, with all of the hate and the dissent that exists between different sects, with all of the competing claims, how can you expect nonbelievers to listen to you and take you seriously? How can I take your claims seriously when you can’t even agree with each other?

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

12 thoughts on “Blessed Assurance, Part II

  1. There are over 40,000 denominations of Christianity, so I don’t know why Christians push this garbage when they are more confused about it than anyone else.

  2. Perhaps just stick with the bible and following its directions. It tells the reader what a Christian is and how one behaves. It tells one what to believe. All in all, it’s pretty clear, imo. This solves the denomination problem.

    1. With all due respect it’s not “pretty clear”, the warrioress. If it was clear the world’s two billion plus Christians would not be so divided to begin with. You suggest that I just “stick with the Bible”. To this I ask the same question I have regarding denominations-which one is correct? There are dozens of versions of the Bible and they do NOT all have the same meaning.

  3. Religions are like clubs, they’re just a way to bring people together and to pool their resources. We don’t want our club to dwindle so we tell people the other club is no good. If your club gets big enough it can rule the world. I guess. Honestly though, most people in churches don’t think that much about it, they pretty much go because they were raised that way. It’s very nice if you are able to enjoy the traditions of your youth. If on the other hand, you feel uncomfortable with those traditons, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You might have to start blogging to figure it out :).

    I’ve never really thrived as a member of any group or club. (Unless it was a writer’s group). Some people really enjoy the benefits of groups, most people do, but personally they don’t tend to offer me what I find most nourishing in life. I’m kind of a poet by nature, I enjoy the messiness of life, I enjoy the process of figuring stuff out. For me that’s life giving. Not everyone finds life as I do. Clearly. I realize this has marginalized me, but it’s not really a matter of choice for me.

  4. Just a small thing aside, I wouldn’t really count UU (Unitarian Universalist) with the other Christian groups, as, at least in my experience, they tend to be VERY different and very open-minded and welcoming and respectful of all people 🙂

    1. Hey Becky :),

      I actually included the UU specifically due to the factors you mentioned-they are different indeed and very warm! I mentioned them to show that even under the umbrella of Christianity there is much diversity. Though the Fundies tend to hog the spotlight, there are certainly other expressions of the faith and I didn’t want to leave them out.

      1. Ah, I understand now, I just read “The list goes on and on. They all supposedly worship the same God-yet come up with wildly differing interpretations of how to follow and please him. The hostility that some denominations show to other Christians rivals the hostility that is shown to other religions! Yet each and every one boldly asserts that they know ‘the truth’ and that those who dispute them-even other Christians-will be unsaved.” as referring back to all of the denominations, including UU, and I didn’t think that described them 🙂 Good to know we agree 🙂

  5. There have been multiple sects of Christianity from Paul’s time to the present, but to say that there is “only one true sect” and the rest are somehow inferior is a falsehood.

    Paul stated in his epistles that he was glad that others were preaching the Gospel, even if they did so while reviling him and his ministry. In fact, Paul saw two different strains of sects which I believe accurately reflect what we see today:

    First, there’s the sects that preach the Gospel (salvation by faith through Christ). These are many, and often differ on matters of how to live the Christian life. Some are strict, some are loose, some have Contemporary music, others just have hymns. All of these are well within the Bible’s constructs, as Romans 14 states that if there is a conviction in a person that a thing is a sin, it is a sin for them.

    Where these sects can go wrong is when they sit in judgement of other sects at this level. It is permissible to disagree with an interpretation. It is not right to judge them.

    Second are the sects that preach a false Gospel but claim Christianity. There are easy ways to tell these sects, either right from Bible teaching or though their history. These would not be considered Christian, even though they self-identify that way as to lead people astray.

    So to answer your question, I would tell you to choose one of the first set of churches that preaches the Gospel where God would lead you to be where you’d grow in Christ and be able to serve Him to the fullest.

  6. So many good reasons to ditch Christianity! After all, the followers are far from perfect. Why is that? It’s a sign of the times. Jesus said in the last days there would be great apostasy. Kind of like in the days of Elijah, when he thought he was the last one left, yet God reassured him that there were still 7,000 that had not bowed a knee to Baal. Don’t judge Jesus by his fallible followers, most of which are sadly not following 1 Corinthians 1:10…

    Are you looking for something to believe in, or the truth? What is truth? Is it found in religion? With so many religions out there, is it possible that they’re all wrong? Well, they certainly can’t all be right. So how do we proceed? We look at the evidence, and test it. It doesn’t matter what we believe, it matters what is true. Right? Truth is what reality says it is. Make sure you have evidence to prove that you’re taking a *calculated* leap of faith into eternity, not a *blind* leap.

    All truth by definition is narrow. 2+2=4. There is only *one* correct answer. There is only one person who is currently president of the USA. One right answer and six billion wrong answers. Any type of truth, even eternal truth, has one right answer, and many wrong answers.

    Since this thread mentioned Unitarian Universalists, let’s just pursue that for a minute. Many UU congregations consist of Jews, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, etc. Ask a pastor of a UU church what happens when they die, and they really don’t know. They may say that they are hoping it’s reincarnation, but that everyone is free to believe what they want to believe. Again, are you searching for something to “believe in” or the “truth”? Is it possible that a person could believe something was going to be on the other side of death, but when they die, they find out that what they thought was going to be there was not actually there? Of course it is. If someone believes that there is nothing when he dies and there *is* something, then he is 100% wrong. But you can’t have a wrong answer unless there is what? A right answer. There has to be a right answer for eternity. An eternal truth.

    We could explore the ins and outs of religions, such as reincarnation since it’s a popular belief embraced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, and various New Age and occult circles…reincarnation is based on the idea of the laws of karma, in which good and bad deeds are tallied and used as the basis for determining a person’s fate in the next life. Who exactly keeps track of each deed of each person who has ever lived in order to make the karmic circle work? Wouldn’t such an entity have to be everywhere, all-knowing, all-powerful, and good–having a pure sense of morality to differentiate between the good and bad of every given situation? How could an individual’s actions be justly judged as right or wrong, unless they know in advance what the definitions of right and wrong are? Also, one would need to be able to see where they are on the karmic scale. Wouldn’t a fair God let people know where they stand? What if they’d worked a lifetime and only accumulated 4,999,999,999 good deeds–and then find out (in the next lifetime, as a slug) that they were just one good deed short of the amount needed for advancement! That would be a bummer. And it wouldn’t be fair of “God” at all. Surely a righteous, just God would tell us very clearly who He is, how we can know Him, and what we can expect in eternity. He would also give us clear guidelines as to what is right and wrong, and let us know how we’re doing. Unlike other religious writings, the Bible actually does that.

    What is the Bible? I know you know, since you have renounced Christianity, but hear me out. The Bible is amazing for the fact that it is a compilation of 66 books, written by more than 40 writers, over a period of 1600 years that reads like one book by one author. The unity, harmony, and accuracy of the Bible is incomparable with that of any other book…

    The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Bible sales are about 150 million a year, w/approximately 4 billion Bibles in print, in over 2,000 languages. That fact alone doesn’t prove it is true, but being the best-selling book in history does give one pause, to at least check it out.

    The Bible claims to be written by God. All other religious texts were written by men who claimed to be speaking for God. Men wrote the Bhagavad Gita. Men who knew Mohammed, or knew of him, wrote the Koran long after his death. A man wrote the book of Mormon, claiming and angel gave it to him on golden plates. Etc. etc. etc. Only the Bible claims to have been written by God speaking to men. Over 3,000 times the Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord.” So our question should be, is there any evidence to prove the supernatural origin of the Bible? Yes. There’s a wealth of information from history, to archaeology, science and prophecy–that shows the Bible is indeed the Word of God.

    Just a few examples of such, and I’ll leave you in peace. One question to ask concerning historical evidence is: how close is the Bible we have today to the original or early manuscripts? Today we have over 24,000 ancient copies of portions of the New Testament. In all of antiquity, the next closest that compares is Homer’s Iliad, of which we have 643 ancient copies. Do we dismiss the validity of the Iliad? Then we shouldn’t dismiss the validity of the Bible. What about the external evidence for the Bible? Look at Tacitus (Roman historian) and Josephus (Jewish historian)–whose writings supported the historical accuracy of the Bible. The Bible accurately describes history down to the smallest of details, and history attests to the truth of the Bible. The rise and fall of great empires like Greece and Rome (Daniel 2:39-40) and the destruction of major cities (Tyre, Sidon; Isaiah 23) are described in the Bible. I could go on and on, and yes, I have…

    Archaeological evidence supports the Bible in over 25,000 finds regarding people, titles, and locations mentioned in the Bible. In fact, there has been no archaeological discovery that has ever contradicted a biblical reference.

    Scientific evidence supports the Bible. 2,500 years ago, science said that there were only around 1,100 stars in the sky, but the prophet Jeremiah said that they were uncountable (Jeremiah 33:22) Science used to teach that the world sat on the back of a large animal. They couldn’t believe that the “flat earth” wasn’t supported by something. Job 26:7 says of God, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” That was written thousands of years ago. The Bible has always said that earth was hanging in space. Isaiah 40:22 also informs us that the earth is circular…

    Most amazingly, in a world of statistics, the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible are incredible. 100% accuracy in foretelling the future. Only the Bible–not The Book of Mormon, or the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita–fulfills 100% of its many very detailed prophecies. In all the writings of Buddha, Confucius, and Lao-Tse, you won’t find a single example of prophecy being fulfilled. In the Koran, the only instance of a specific prophecy is when Mohammed predicted that he himself would return to Mecca–a prophecy very easy for him to fulfill himself. OTOH, the Bible contains more than 2,000 detailed prophecies in the Old Testament alone. 25% of the Bible is predictive in nature. And except for the prophecies that tell about the end time return of Jesus, every single prophecy–including those about political, religious, intellectual, and geographic events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ to earth–has been fulfilled down to the smallest detail. What are the statistical odds, huh. If you’d like to hear what some of those prophecies were, let me know and I can take a stab at it here for you.

    The important thing is not to focus on the majority of mainstream *Christian Atheists* who “believe in God” but live as if He doesn’t exist. Who squabble about denominational differences and never read and study the Book for themselves. The important thing is to figure it out for yourself. What is truth? And figure it out before it’s too late. Remember, all truth is narrow by definition. Don’t define God or the Bible by the Christians who have let you down. Let Him speak for Himself in your life. No one wants a blind faith, but a faith based on good, solid evidence. John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Use your logic. It is not intellectual suicide to believe truth. Logic exists to help us find truth.

    Death is only the beginning! Where are you going when you walk off this planet?

    1. Hello Mary,

      The length and content of your comment lets me know that it is definitely time to modify my comments policy. Since at the time of your post my policy was to allow and not censor any comments, I will leave it up. Going forth, comments of an evangelical nature will not be approved. If you or anyone else feels the need to proselytize that is fine, but my blog is not the platform for you to do it. I do not go around pushing my views on the blogs and websites of devout believers and would very much appreciate of commenters would pay the same respect.

      With that said, Mary you have not said anything new. I have heard all of these apologetics before. I even repeated them myself. I also take issue with your assumption that I abandoned Christianity due to the bad behavior of Christians. It seems that people read ONE or TWO posts out of the eighty plus that I have up and think that they completely understand my reasons for abandoning faith. If you had read my previous posts you would know that I did not abandon Christianity because people were mean to me. That would be an incredibly stupid and immature reason to change one’s belief system. Have I had the displeasure of encountering hypocritical, sleazy and disgusting Christians? Certainly! And I have also encountered hypocritical, sleazy and disgusting Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, etc. There are Christians that I know and love who, even though we do not see eye to eye on religion, are beautiful and loving people who would give me the shirt off their backs. I have one particularly devout girlfriend who still gives me a warm hug and is genuinely pleased to see me every time we meet and we have a great time together. But none of that has anything to do with me rejecting Christianity. No, I abandoned Christianity because I can no longer accept and believe any of the basic premises that underlie the faith. It is impossible to be a traditional Christian if you do not believe in the Fall of Man and the concept of Original Sin, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I simply do not BELIEVE in these concepts. I do not believe that you, me, my seven year old child or my two-year old nice are ALL inherently wicked and deserving of death and hell because a woman took a bite of fruit-at the urging of talking snake- thousands of years ago before any of us had been conceived. I don’t see why you, I or anyone else should be blamed for a supposed “sin” that we had no part in. I do not understand how a supposedly all-powerful god can do everything, but he can’t forgive mankind without the bloody human sacrifice of…himself. If there was a way for my mind to accept any of that, I would probably still be a Christian. But I can’t make myself believing something that my mind rejects on the basis of logic. It is really that simple. I don’t know why some believers find that so hard to accept.

      As for the rest of you post-I really do not know what to say to someone who truly believes that it was science that was wrong about the shape of the earth and that the Bible clearly told us thousands of years ago, so I am just going to leave that alone. It is kind of funny to me though, because Muslims make that EXACT same argument to claim that the Qu’Ran is the word of god and they are just as certain as you are. Then you invoke the specter of death and eternity….this is oh so predictable! Mary you and I are both alive, so it would be ridiculous for us to argue about the afterlife, for the FACT is that neither one of us is six foot under. It really amazes me that people continue to use death and the implied threat of hell as evidence for their position. I am humble enough to admit that I cannot say with 100% certainty what happens when we die. I wish that more believers could do the same.

    2. Oh another thing I forgot to mention Mary: I have read the Bible…cover to cover…TWICE. So my problems with Christianity did not stem from me not reading the Scriptures for myself. Reading the Bible word for word actually provoked more questions.

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