Why I'm Not a Christian

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mattrose
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Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by mattrose » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:08 pm

Why I'm Not a Christian

I have always been interested in arguments against Christianity (whether from atheists, agnostics, or adherents of other religions). Facebook hosts a plethora of anti-Christian propaganda. As a thinking Christian, I actually enjoy considering and dissecting them, whether they be gentle jabs or all out attacks. As strange as it sounds, though, I usually end up feeling both disappointed and delighted after reading them. I'm disappointed that arguments so confused, so weak, and so shallow are part of present day dialogue. Yet I'm also delighted that such arguments seem to be the best the non-Christian world has to offer against Christianity (this fact sometimes strengthens faith).

Even still, after reading so much rhetorical refuse, I thought it might be interesting to write AS AN ATHEIST. If I stopped being a Christian tomorrow, and decided to write an essay "Why I'm not a Christian," what would I write? Here's what I came up with.

WHY I'M NOT A CHRISTIAN

First, I can't believe in Christianity because Christianity doesn't know what to believe. Jesus supposedly lived, died, and rose again. Jesus himself said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would lead Christians into all truth. But it's been about 2,000 years now and Christians still don't really know the truth about anything! They disagree about everything! And it's not like they only quibble over little things. Ask a Christian to explain the Trinity! Ask them to explain how someone gets saved! They disagree about the very basic components of their faith! And not only do they disagree, they're NASTY about it. Am I supposed to be impressed by a religion that claims to be based on love and yet has to divide into a handful of churches (at least) in each town?

Second, I can't believe in Christianity because I'm not even sure THEY believe in it! Supposedly, their God became flesh... died for all their sins... and rose from the dead (promising them eternal life!). But whenever I visit a church, they seem pretty subdued. And I don't mean they should be jumping on their pews... but at least have a sparkle in your eye, eh? Something isn't right here. Either Jesus rose from the dead or He didn't. Either God has done something that changes everything or He hasn't. If He has, why is church so boring? If he hasn't... well, I must conclude that he hasn't if I'm basing it off of what I see from the 'church.' More often than not it just seems like another human club.

Third, I can't believe in Christianity because Christianity doesn't seem to be making a difference. The Bible itself says that we will know the truth of something by its fruit. What is the fruit of Christianity? I don't see many churches really making a difference in their local communities. In fact, what difference would it make if churches just disappeared tomorrow? I'm not sure it would make much of difference. It might even help because, at least then, some other institution would build something on their land and pay taxes!

Of course none of my reasons for not being a Christian have much to do with Christ Himself. But why should I assume what they say about him is true? I was reading the Gospel they call John one time. Jesus was praying. He prayed that his followers would 'be one.' He prayed that his followers would 'have the full measure of his joy.' His prayer was that they be 'sent into the world.' I don't see unity. I don't see joy. I don't even see them in the world (they stick pretty much to themselves). If Jesus' prayers aren't even answered, why would I even try? If his followers can't get it right after 2,000 years, why should I pay attention. It seems to me that the supposed evidence that Jesus is alive... is dead.

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mattrose
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by mattrose » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:01 pm

A week ago I posted a little article "Why I'm not a Christian" in which I gave 3 reasons why a hypothetical me would reject Christianity. Several people commented that I should respond to myself. While I still think the best response to all 3 points involves actions and not more words, there is nothing wrong with a both/and approach. So I'll devote a note to each one. Here's how non-Christian Matthew started out:
First, I can't believe in Christianity because Christianity doesn't know what to believe. Jesus supposedly lived, died, and rose again. Jesus himself said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would lead Christians into all truth. But it's been about 2,000 years now and Christians still don't really know the truth about anything! They disagree about everything! And it's not like they only quibble over little things. Ask a Christian to explain the Trinity! Ask them to explain how someone gets saved! They disagree about the very basic components of their faith! And not only do they disagree, they're NASTY about it. Am I supposed to be impressed by a religion that claims to be based on love and yet has to divide into a handful of churches (at least) in each town?
Hypothetical Matthew makes a pretty good argument! Christianity appears to be deeply divided. Catholics and Protestants don't get along (and they both tend to ignore the Eastern Orthodox). Protestantism has protested itself into thousands of denominations. No two Christians agree about everything. Is this what Christians call unity?

That's a good question. If unity is measured by equivalent beliefs, then Christianity is certainly not unified. But why should unity be measured in that way? Isn't that uniformity rather than unity? If Christians throughout the world agreed on every little detail, wouldn't one suspect there is some sort of mass delusion at play (either demonic or due to drinking the same Kool-Aid)? The reality is that unity is not found in uniformity, it is found in common direction.

Are Christians all headed in the same direction? By definition. Christians are people following Jesus. If I start out in Buffalo and my friend starts out in Chicago, but we're both headed to Cleveland... we are going in the same direction and share a unified purpose. The fact that we are at different places to begin with, and all along the way, is really beside the point. Granted, some people who claim to be Christians aren't actually following Jesus at all. But that is beside the point too. We don't define a Christian by profession of the label, but by pursuit of the Lord. Christians share a unified purpose and will one day share a unified destination.

Hypothetical Matthew made the same mistake that real Matthew used to make... that is... he thought Christianity was primarily a list of beliefs rather than the love of a person (Jesus). Because of this, he defined unity along those lines. The cool thing is, once you understand unity as a shared love and pursuit of Jesus, the diversity of beliefs among Christians actually becomes a valuable asset rather than a mark against Christianity. It is in our intense diversity that we are best equipped to discern doctrinal truth! Indeed, perhaps the best way the Spirit leads us toward all truth is by means of diversity, discussion, and loving debate.

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mattrose
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by mattrose » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:45 pm

I want to continue to critique hypothetical Matthew's note "Why I'm Not a Christian." That Matt made three arguments against Christianity (little unity, little joy, little fruit). A few days ago I responded to his claim that Christians are not unified. Today I want to respond to his claim that Christians are not joyful. Here's what he said:
Second, I can't believe in Christianity because I'm not even sure THEY believe in it! Supposedly, their God became flesh... died for all their sins... and rose from the dead (promising them eternal life!). But whenever I visit a church, they seem pretty subdued. And I don't mean they should be jumping on their pews... but at least have a sparkle in your eye, eh? Something isn't right here. Either Jesus rose from the dead or He didn't. Either God has done something that changes everything or He hasn't. If He has, why is church so boring? If he hasn't... well, I must conclude that he hasn't if I'm basing it off of what I see from the 'church.' More often than not it just seems like another human club.
The problem here, I think, is that hypothetical Matthew judged the church as joyless due to his Sunday morning experience alone. In his defense, if the churches he visited really were TOTALLY dead... cold... institutionalized... then I understand why he came to the conclusion that he did. But I'm guessing that within those churches there were, at least, some pockets of joy. Did Matthew expect that every person present on Sunday morning was truly following Jesus and experiencing the joy of knowing him? Shouldn't the fact that Matthew himself was present have tipped him off to the fact that Sunday morning is a pretty mixed mess of people?

Even if there were only a few pockets of joy in the midst of the congregation, he should have reached into those pockets to see if he could find something of value. If Matthew wanted to know what it was like to be a professional football player, it wouldn't have been enough to watch a game on TV. It wouldn't have been enough to go to a game. It wouldn't have been enough to stand on the sideline. To begin to understand what it's like, Matthew would have to spend some time with actual football players (not just on Sunday, but throughout the week when they are... practicing). And to finally understand what it's like to be a professional football player, Matthew would have to become one.

If hypothetical Matthew would take the time to immerse himself in the lives of some people who are dedicated to Jesus, I am confident he would find true joy. He would find peace that passes understanding. He would find strength that doesn't make sense. He would find vitality and vigor. He would find resurrection power. He would find love without limits.

All that being said, I am sometimes afraid that hypothetical Matthew might fail to find such people. Are there enough pockets of joy? Jesus once asked... "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" I wonder, when hypothetical Matthew comes... will he find faith in the church?

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steve
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by steve » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:24 pm

This is a good thread, Matt. Keep it up!

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TK
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by TK » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:47 pm

I agree- this thread is awesome.

The problem is- how will I really know it is the real matthew replying and not the hypothetical matthew pretending to be the real matthew?

TK

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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by morbo3000 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:58 am

I think skeptic Matt has a lot in common with why Bart Ehrman is no longer a Christian.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg-dJA3SnTA

(I know, I know.. I'm Mr. Linkposter.)

I've actually started praying for Bart, as I believe many others are.
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by morbo3000 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:33 pm

mattrose wrote: Why I'm Not a Christian

First, I can't believe in Christianity because Christianity doesn't know what to believe. Jesus supposedly lived, died, and rose again. Jesus himself said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would lead Christians into all truth. But it's been about 2,000 years now and Christians still don't really know the truth about anything! They disagree about everything! And it's not like they only quibble over little things. Ask a Christian to explain the Trinity! Ask them to explain how someone gets saved! They disagree about the very basic components of their faith! And not only do they disagree, they're NASTY about it. Am I supposed to be impressed by a religion that claims to be based on love and yet has to divide into a handful of churches (at least) in each town?
Hi [faux] Matt. It's great you are hanging out here, regardless of your doubts about Christianity. I have many friends who, while not Christians, are closer to my faith than some Christians, because like you, they are asking the right questions.

I think the obstacle you are running up against has its roots in "Christian" being defined as someone who believes certain things, tries to be nice, and gets together once a week in a building to sing songs and listen to a sermon. I don't think you are at fault for defining it that way. The majority of Christians define it that way. But going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger, Christian musician Keith Green once said.

Keith went on to describe a Christian as someone who is "bananas for Jesus. Someone who loves God with all their heart, soul and mind, and loves his neighbor as himself." It means getting to the core of who Jesus was. Learn what he taught about true living. How do you see yourself? How do you see others? What did he do for us. For you? And then put your stake in the ground and identify yourself with Him.

When people's disagreements lead to divisiveness and a lack of love, rather than disqualify Christianity, I think it disqualifies those people as Christians.

So how do you become one of these kinds of Christians. My suggestion is to read the stories and teachings of Jesus by those who were closest to him. In the Christian Bible these are called gospels. I recommend Mark first.

Then, be on the lookout for people who are imitating Jesus' vision. People who are devoted to God. Who are humble. Who are loving and accepting. Who aren't living a sloppy life. That's Christianity. When you see it, I'm not sure you'll be so quick to reject it as the fake imitation you've seen.

Feel free to post questions either in this thread, or personally message me. I'd be happy to discuss it further and answer questions you have.
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:23 pm

I wish you could "like" posts like you do in Facebook.

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mattrose
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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by mattrose » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:24 pm

I like that response too Morbo!

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Re: Why I'm Not a Christian

Post by morbo3000 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:30 am

Thanks!

You should create a Faux-Matt account. Extend the thought exercise further.
When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
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